Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé has won the New Academy Prize 2018, referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize for Literature, for her 1984 bestseller Segu.
The Nobel Prize for Literature was not announced this year, for the first time since 1949, in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations. Following that, a group of 100 Swedish cultural figures formulated the New Academy Prize with a winner's purse of around $112,000 as a substitute.
Condé writes primarily in French and most often sets her books against the backdrops of slavery, colonialism, and exploitation. She has written over ten novels of which I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, is one of her popular works.
Her bestselling novel, however, was Segu, which established her as an important literary figure among Caribbean writers. Born at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, she spent many years in the West African regions of Guinea, Ghana and Senegal. Condé was the recipient of Le Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986 and also received Le Prix de L'Académie Française in 1988.
Segu, published in Penguin Modern Classics is set in 1797 and is about the flourishing namesake kingdom whose people, the Bambara are guided by their griots and priests. However, the tides of change herald a new religion, Islam, from the east and the slave trade from the West. The novel follows the life of the king's most trusted advisor Dousika and his four descendants as it captures the struggles of a nation trying to cope with jihad, rivalry and racism.
Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 12:48 PM