Maryse Condé at the Ottawa Writers Festival

The Embassy of France is proud to announce the exceptional visit to Ottawa of renowned Guadeloupe-born writer Maryse Condé, who will take part in the Ottawa International Writers Festival on Monday, April 14 at 8:30PM.

JPEGMaryse Condé was born in 1937 in Pointe-à-Pitre, on the carribean island of Guadeloupe. In 1953, she left her home at the age of sixteen to further educate herself at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In 1960, she married an actor from Africa, Mamadou Condé. She lived in the Ivory Coast for a year and taught in Bingerville. From 1960 to 1964 she was an instructor at École Normale Supérieure, Conakry, Guinea. Then she worked at the Ghana Institute of Language in Accra (1966-68) and at Lycée Charles de Gaulle, Saint Louis, Senegal (1966-68).

In 1968, Maryse Condé moved to London. After working for the BBC as a program producer, she taught in three parisian universities, at Jussieu (1970-72), Nanterre (1972-80), and Sorbonne Nouvelle (1980-85). In 1982, she remarried to Richard Philcox, who became her official translator. Maryse Condé now teaches at Columbia University in New York City in the French and Romance Philology Department.

Condé is an author of epic fiction, best-known for her historical novel Ségou (1984-85). Her multifaceted novels question stereotypical images of literary characters, colonialism, sex and gender.

She has also published children’s books, a booklet about Guadeloupe, book-length essays about francophone women writers and oral literatures in Martinique and Guadeloupe, critical booklets about Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, Antillean fiction, and numerous articles mainly about Caribbean literature and cultural studies.

Condé’s novels are set at cultural crossroads, exploring the intrusion of European imperialism into Africa and the resulting diaspora cultures, particularly that of the West Indies. In her early works, the author explored the myth that the rediscovery of African ancestry can solve the Caribbean question. Later Condé has also focused on the West Indian web of past myths, contemporary corruption, and disillusionment about the possibility to erase a colonial past of dispossession.

Her novels focus on personal human involvements in holy wars, national rivalries and migrations. Her novels emphasize the effects of the transition of ordinary characters by placing the protagonists in situations where they must choose between the existing social order and cultural changes prompted by Western influences. Condé uses her characters as a tool for expressing herself by giving them their own voice in order to make her views on specific issues known. Her characters are often rejected by society because they are drifters, non-conformists, rebels. She is interested in the cultural encounters, conflicts, and the changes which bring about a new awareness in her main characters.

Maryse Condé will take part in the "Writing Life" Series of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, along with Canadian writers Anne Simpson and Stan Dragland. The round-table will be moderated by Adrian Harewood, host of CBC show "All In a Day".

Monday, April 14 at 20:30PM
- Ottawa International Writers Festival
- Library and Archives Canada
- 395 Wellington Street
- Entrance Fee : $15 / $12 / Free (Festival Members)
- In English
- Information : (613)562-1243


Last modified on 15/06/2008

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