Maryse Conde is one of the best-known and most beloved French Caribbean literary voices. The author of more than twenty novels, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015 and has long been recognized as a giant of black feminist literature. While Conde has previously published an autobiography of her childhood, What Is Africa to Me? tells for the first time the story of her early adult years in Africa years formative not only for her, but also for African colonies appealing for their own independence.What Is Africa to Me? traces the late 1950s to 1968, chronicling Conde’s life in Sekou Toure’s Guinea to her time in Kwame N’Krumah’s Ghana, where she rubbed shoulders with Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Julius Nyerere, and Maya Angelou. Accusations of subversive activity resulted in Conde’s deportation from Ghana. Settling down in Senegal, Conde ended her African years with close friends in Dakar including, filmmakers, activists, and Haitian exiles, before putting down more permanent roots in Paris. Conde’s story is more than one of political upheaval, however; it is also the story of a mother raising four children as she battles steep obstacles, of a Guadeloupean seeking her identity in Africa, and of a young woman searching for her freedom and vocation as a writer. What Is Africa to Me? is a searing portrait of a literary genius it should not be missed.
A native of Guadeloupe, Maryse Condé lived for many years in Paris, where she taught West Indian literature at the Sorbonne. The author of several novels that have been well received in France (both Segu and its sequel were bestsellers), she has lectured widely in the United States and now divides her time between Guadeloupe and New York City.