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Maryse Condé: the Price strengthens me in the belief that it was right to follow my calling to become a writer

I don't know how I'll be able to express a large enough thank you.

Since you awarded me this prize, it has felt as if I get to warm myself by a blazing fire. I have been pleasantly me together with my next, which is always enveloped me in their love and supported me – my husband, Richard Philcox, my three daughters Sylvie, Aïcha and Leïla, my grandchildren Raky, Serina, Maryse, Mounir and Youssof and my two great-grandchildren Mahily and Fadèle, who do not yet know what awaits them – at least the two mandatory pages Maryse Condé on the day.

also encountered such warmth from unknown readers, from people I met at conferences to those who floods me with e-mail, text message or phone call to tell me how the delight in this prize and that they believe that I have made me deserving of it. Something like I have never experienced before.

All of this strengthens me in the belief that it was right to follow my calling to become a writer and thus, as the Arabic saying goes, ”hang up my plow from the star”.

But it was not obvious that I would write. When I was ten or twelve years old I received a book as a birthday present by a friend of my mother, just as she was a primary school teacher. She knew that I already had a lot of books by writers like Flaubert, Balzac, Maupassant, Apollinaire and Rimbaud and wanted to give me something original. The book was ”Dizzying heights” by Emily Brontë. I started to read in bed the same evening. After a few pages I was hooked. I laughed and cried. Just like the main character Cathy shouts ”I am Heathcliff!” so I was on the verge to cry out ”Emily Brontë, it is I!”

Christina Kullberg: Maryse Condés novels have made a dizzying journey in the world

it sounds strange that a young girl from Guadeloupe could identify so intensely with an English clergyman's daughter who lived his life on the Yorkshire moors. But such is now literature, and magic. It recognizes no borders and has space for all the unattainable dreams, besattheter and desires, that unites the various readers independent of time and place.

When I several years later visited Japan I was struck by the same feeling. There is a big difference between me and japan, both physically and in terms of what we read in school and in lifestyle. But In the same moment as a translator began to read one of my texts on the japanese filled the room a strong sense of community.

the Day after the night when I began to read Brontë, I ran over to my mum's friend to thank her and to tell you the impact her gift had on me. Naively I ended by saying: ”You will see that I also one day become a writer, and the books I intend to write will be as beautiful and powerful as Emily Brontës.” She gave me a surprised, a bit sad glance and said, ”What are you talking about? Items that we don't write books.”

then with ”such as we”? Women? Black? The inhabitants of the small, forgotten islands? It I'll probably never know. But the call made me completely destroyed.

As a result of it, I could never start a new novel without knowing that I was heading into a dead end. Then when I started to write my own version of the ”Dizzying heights”, which received the title of ”La Migration des Coeurs” in French and ”Windward Heights” in English, I thought that I cursed. Thanks to this price, I feel now that I defeated a triple challenge.

I would symbolically like to share this award with my husband, Richard Philcox. I realize, of course, that when a woman in our era, characterised by the kvinnofrigörelse and activism, claiming that she lived a half century with the same man without having any complaints is a risk she is to be regarded as a little bit retarded, or crazy as you said in the past. I take full responsibility for my claim, and have good reasons to share my prize with Richard.

I am happy and very proud to have got to be one of those who made Guadeloupes voice heard.

he has translated most of my books. Without him, would my novels remain confined in the strip of the world where you read French. No one would have read and studied them in geographical countries as diverse as England, the USA, India, Australia or south Africa (for now take a few examples). On a purely personal level, my long career as a writer and an activist, sometimes interrupted by periods characterized by despair, hornets and despair. Richard was always on the spot, held my hand and helped me to simply survive. To quote what André Breton said, when he had just come to know the Aime Césaire, so, Richard has been my ”constant oxygen.”

Finally, I want to dedicate this prize to Guadeloupe – the small island I come from, a so misunderstood, baktalad and despised place – as well as to all the guadeloupier as voted by me. Do not believe a word of what you read in the tourist brochures that promise a cheap holiday in the islands where everyone speaks French. To come from our part of the world is not easy.

We ask ourselves, for example, often if Guadeloupe is a country of its own. In 1946 adopted the ”assimilationslagen”, which were added at the initiative of the Aimé Cesaire from Martinique, which then sat in the French parliament. The conversion of our island to be a DOM, Département Français d’Outremer, a French possession on the other side of the sea. I am not one of those who complain to me over Cesaires political action. His beautiful poetry, I forgive him a lot. But shall we be honest, he had completely wrong on this point. It is because of him that Guadeloupes residents today have the status of ”domiens”, subjects. I myself am a ' domienne”.

Read more: Maryse Condé, the New Academy's prize for literature

we do not have their own language. For many years it was forbidden to speak creole In the schools, until a group of brave intellectuals managed to establish the study of our language as a subject in its own.

You say that we lack creativeness. We are either descendants of african slaves, tvångsarbetande indigenous people or to the French. No one seems to believe that we have managed to create a whole culture of these building blocks. On Guadeloupe, there is no work to get, and unemployment rates are constantly all-time highs. Everyone must leave the island to earn a living, most people are looking to France, but you can find us all over the world. The left refers to the drug stores or pure robbery and theft, with a våldstatistik to a result that is now beginning to attract the attention of the French press.

In the wake of this terrible development, I have concluded me to those who founded a political party for change. We propose independence. But then the majority have lost all hope, we lack the support, and I fear that we are fighting a losing battle. Today, Guadeloupe is a zombie. The island is mentioned only when it happens to a hurricane, then the traditional seglartävlingen ”Route du Rhum” takes place or maybe if some famous rock star want to let themselves be buried on the neighboring island of Saint-Barthélemy.

happy and very proud to have got to be one of those who made Guadeloupes voice heard – a voice which, despite all the setbacks still says its No. It is a mighty voice. A voice that is still enchanting and magical.

My big thanks.

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