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Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé dies aged 90

Guadeloupe-born author Maryse Condé, who best known for novels tackling the legacy of slavery and colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean, has died aged of 90.

Condé died in her sleep at hospital in the town of Apt in southeastern France on Monday night, her husband Richard Philcox said.

She was known as one of the greatest chroniclers of the struggles and triumphs of the descendants of Africans taken as slaves to the Caribbean.

The mother of four, who once said she "did not have the confidence to present her writing to the outside world", did not pen her first book until she was nearly 40.

Often tipped for the Nobel Prize for Literature, "the grand storyteller" from the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe won the alternative Swedish New Academy prize in 2018.

By then the francophone novelist, with close cropped grey hair, was confined to a wheelchair with a degenerative disease.

Tackling racism, corruption

Her first book Heremakhonon, which means Waiting for Happiness in the Malinke language of West Africa, centred on a Caribbean woman's disillusioned experience in Africa.

It caused a scandal in 1976 and three West African countries ordered the copies destroyed.

"In those days, the entire world was talking of the success of African socialism," she later wrote.

"I dared to say that... these countries were victims of dictators prepared to starve their populations."

She found popular and critical success with novels like Segu set in the Bambara Empire of 19th-century Mali.

But Condé still felt snubbed by the French literary establishment, never winning its top prizes.

(with AFP)


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