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The Belle Créole

Maryse Condé. Translated by Nicole Simek. Afterword by Dawn Fulton

BUY Cloth · 224 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813944210 · $52.50 · Apr 2020
BUY Paper · 224 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813944227 · $21.95 · Apr 2020
BUY Ebook · 224 pp. · ISBN 9780813944234 · $52.50 · Apr 2020

Possessing one of the most vital voices in international letters, Maryse Condé added to an already acclaimed career the New Academy Prize in Literature in 2018. The fourteenth novel by this celebrated author centers on an enigmatic crime blamed on a homeless man whose refuge is the ship La Belle Créole, anchored just offshore the city of Port-Mahault. The young gardener Dieudonné Sabrina is acquitted in the murder of his employer--and lover--Loraine, a wealthy white woman descended from plantation owners. Condé follows Dieudonné’s desperate wanderings through the city the night of his release, the narrative unfolding through a series of multivoiced flashbacks set against a forbidding backdrop of social disintegration and tumultuous labor strikes in turn-of-the-twenty-first-century Guadeloupe. Twenty-four hours later, Dieudonné’s fate becomes suggestively intertwined with that of the French island itself, though the future of both remains uncertain in the end.

Echoes of Faulkner and Lawrence, and even Shakespeare’s Othello, resonate in this tale, yet the drama’s uniquely modern dynamics set it apart from any model in its exploration of love and hate, politics and stereotype, and the attempt to find connections with others across barriers. Through her vividly and intimately drawn characters, Condé paints a rich portrait of a contemporary society grappling with the heritage of slavery, racism, and colonization.

About the Author: 

Maryse Condé is Professor Emerita of French at Columbia University and the author of the internationally celebrated novels Segu and I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (Virginia). In 2018 she won the prestigious New Academy Prize in Literature.

Nicole Simek is Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature and Professor of French and Interdisciplinary Studies at Whitman College and author of Hunger and Irony in the French Caribbean: Literature, Theory, and Public Life.

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