Maryse Condé was awarded the Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca 2021 by the Institut de France (Fondations) on May 17, 2021.
The Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca (Cino Del Duca World Prize) is an international literary award that recognizes an author whose work constitutes, in a scientific or literary form, a message of modern humanism. Worth €200,000, it was established in France by Simone Del Duca (1912–2004) to continue the work of her husband, publishing magnate Cino Del Duca in 1969. Some previous winners have been Joyce Carol Oates, Kamel Daoud, and Léopold Sédar Senghor.
The jury for 2021 was made up of 14 members many who are members of the Institut de France: 4 members of the French Academy, 2 members of the other four Academies and 2 external figures. They were Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Dominique Bona, Rémi Brague, Yves Coppens, Adrien Goetz, Nicolas Grimal, Gilbert Guillaume, Muriel Mayette-Holtz, Bernard Meunier, Jean-Noël Robert, Daniel Rondeau, Jean-Marie Rouart, Nicolas Baverez, and Véronique Morali.
This panel revealed the winner for 2021 to be Guadeloupe author Maryse Condé. Condé was born in Guadeloupe in 1937 as the youngest of eight siblings. She earned her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Paris-Sorbonne University and went on to have a distinguished academic career, receiving the title of Professor Emerita of French at Columbia University in New York, where she taught and lived for many years. She has also lived in various West African countries, most notably in Mali, where she gained inspiration for her worldwide bestseller Segu, for which she was awarded the African Literature Prize and several other respected French awards. Condé was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2015 and awarded the 2018 New Academy Prize (or “Alternative Nobel”) in Literature, and in 2020 she received the Grand-Croix de l’Ordre National du Mérite from French President Emmanuel Macron.
Jury president Hélène Carrère d’Encausse spoke of the work of Maryse Condé that has done a lot for the Francophonie and whose work allows better understand the historical debate on colonization.
Maryse Condé said; “I don’t just care about writing great stories. I don’t write just to entertain the reader although humor and derision are my main weapons. I have lived in a country where the rulers did not care about their people and where they were deprived of everything. Also through my books, I try to imagine a better, more tolerant world. I dream of a time where the earth will finally be round. I write, as I like to say, in Maryse Condé because for me a writer has no language kindergarten. I write as another Antillean writer says, Martiniquais Édouard Glissant, in the presence of all the languages of the world. I try to compose every time the idiom that will best suit my dreams and aspirations”.