Maryse Condé was born at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, in 1937. She studied at the Université de Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), where she took her doctorate in comparative literature (1975) researching black stereotypes in Caribbean literature. For 12 years, she lived and taught in West Africa (Guinea, Ghana and Senegal) before returning to France in 1973 to teach Francophone Literature at Paris VII (Jussieu), X (Nanterre), and III (Sorbonne Nouvelle). Condé went on to teach at University of California, Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Virginia before retiring from Columbia University as Professor Emerita of French in 2004.
Condé first novel Hérémakhonon (1976) was inspired by her own life in West Africa, followed by A Season in Rihata (1981) set in a late 20th-century African land. Condé’s pre-eminent position among contemporary Caribbean writers was established on publication of her third novel, Segu (1984), which examined the violent impact of the slave trade, Islam, Christianity and white colonisation on a royal family during the period from 1797 to 1860.
Condé now splits her time between Paris and New York.