Maryse Condé is the laureate of the 2018 New Prize in Literature, presented by Den Nya Akademin (DNA – “The New Academy”), a private initiative organized among Swedish culture workers because no Nobel Prize for Literature will be given in 2018.
She has written over 20 novels exploring racial, gender and cultural issues in a variety of historical eras and locales. Segu (1980), set in the 19th-century Bambara Empire of Mali, is highly regarded by critics, and her other work includes a novel set during the Salem witch trials, I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (1986).
In her work, she has described how colonialism has changed the world and how those affected take back their heritage.
Condé’s message accepting the award said:
Guadeloupe is a small country, important to us who are born there, but only mentioned when there are hurricanes and earthquakes. I am happy that our country is now known for other reasons, for this literature prize which I am so happy and proud to receive.
Kim Thuy and Neil Gaiman were also on the shortlist for the award, as was Haruki Murakami before he withdrew his nomination, claiming he needed to focus on writing. The Guardian noted that “The Japanese novelist is frequently seen as a frontrunner for the Nobel itself, which is hoping to unveil two winners in 2019 once it has restored what it described as ‘reduced public confidence’ following the scandal.”
The award ceremony will take place December 9.