Authors You Should Know: Maryse Conde


Welcome to 2018, readers!

Here at Pen Name Publishing, we are looking forward to a new year - and a new set of authors. Ask any author and they will tell you that you need to read in order to write. Most authors we know are voracious readers.

2017 brought many important discussions in the literary community: diversity, representation, own voices, marginalized authors, publishing practices, and more. We saw the community band together over problematic content...and sometimes, over dissect and assign problems to innocent content.

We felt 2018 would be a great year to spread positivity by introducing a new blog series highlighting authors that have influenced the literary landscape and given a voice to diverse and marginalized authors. We hope you will find some new reads this year and breath life into the catalogues of authors you may have never heard of before, authors we feel should be discussed, read, devoured, and held as treasures.


Today we introduce you to Maryse Conde.

Have you read any of her works before? Leave us a comment and let us know which you loved, what's on your TBR, or where to start in her diverse catalogue.


Maryse Conde is an award-winning author of French origin born on February 11, 1937. Despite her books being translated for the market in various languages, she writes them in her mother tongue, French.


For her work, she won the Le Grand Prix Litteraire de la femme in 1986 and the Le Prix de L'Acade'mie Francaise in 1988.

In her books, she uses a literary genre where the plots focus on showcasing the colonialism era, cultural aspects, social conditions and the aftermath of slavery. Maryse Conde has influenced the literary world positively and bravely, focusing on feminism, political concerns, and matters relating to the African people. A Guadeloupean woman, she brought out the Caribbean Cultural tensions between traditional and modern values among the ethnic groups and between the sexes. Her reading of gender refuses absolute difference while tracing social inequalities that cause a black woman's plight to exceed that of her brothers. She tries to identify formations in postcolonial literature.


The literature in her books plays a major role in disturbing and disrupting comfortable normative positions both ideological and aesthetic. She straddles two literary generations, one that has stuck to conventional narrative forms and the other that has launched into novelistic experiments. "Crossing the Mangrove" clearly performs a postcolonial investigative reveal on the connections between the past of the Antilles and the ever-changing faces of its modernity.

In her literal works, the feminine paradox is not implied directly, although it is paramount. All idealism in her work is shaded with irony, self-conscious overtones that surround the writers own period with colonial politics, race and gender issues and all her characters are constructed equivocally. While racial, sexual and political oppression are often denounced, Maryse is more often concerned with tracing their complications and intersections than with the clarity of their definitions. Simply, she realized that women explore the depths of the societies without putting emphasis on the divisions of race (black and white) the male authors tend to amplify. 

In her fictions, subjectivity is always tied to the ability to tell a story. Unlike most authors who either choose male narrating subjects or construct anonymous voices for which gender markings are only incidental, Maryse gives voice to her female characters in a privileged way while her male characters' lives are for the most part recounted by the omniscient third-person narrator who first quotes a few lines from the character before telling his story. This is majorly seen in the book "Crossing the mangrove".

Conde's catalogue includes: Heremakhonon (1976) , Desirada (1979), Crossing the Mangrove (1985), I, Tituba: Black witch of Salem (1986), Segu (1987), A Season in Rihata (1988), The Children of Segu (1989), A tan Revolysion (1989), Tree of Life (1992), The Last of The African Kings (1994), Le Coeur `a rire et `a pleurer - Souvenirs de mon enfance (1999), Windward Heights (2008), Who Slashed Celanire's Throat? (2004), The Story of the Cannibal Woman (2007), Like Two Brothers (2007), Victoire: My Mothers Mother (2010)