Maryse Conde: Guadeloupe author wins alternative Nobel Literature Prize

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Maryse Conde Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maryse Conde said she shared her prize with the people of Guadeloupe

Maryse Conde, one of the Caribbean’s most renowned authors, has won an award created to replace this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.

The prestigious literature prize was suspended this year after a scandal at the Swedish Academy, which awards it.

The Guadeloupian author, 81, said she was “very happy and proud” to win the alternative version.

She was nominated alongside Japan’s Haruki Murakami, the UK’s Neil Gaiman and Vietnamese-born Canadian Kim Thuy.

Conde will win about £87,000 raised from crowdfunding and donations, and will receive the prize at a ceremony on 9 December, one day before the Nobel banquet.

The Nobel Prize for Literature was suspended after a crisis over its handling of allegations against Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of one of the academy’s members.

He has been jailed for two years for rape. He has appealed against his conviction, according to Swedish media.

Several members of the academy, including its head Professor Sara Danius, quit over the scandal in April.

She said: “Please allow me to share it with my family, my friends and above all with the people of Guadeloupe, who will be thrilled and touched seeing me receive this prize.”

Her region is “only mentioned when there are hurricanes or earthquakes”, she added.

Conde has written more than 20 novels, including Desirada and Segu.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Neil Gaiman was also nominated for the prize

The Swedish Academy said her work “describes the ravages of colonialism and post-colonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming”.

Murakami withdrew his nomination last month, telling organisers he wanted to focus on work and avoid the spotlight.

The Swedish Academy has said it will announce the official 2018 winner along with the 2019 winner next year.

The alternative prize was set up by an organisation calling itself the New Academy, comprising more than 100 Swedish writers, artists and journalists. It will be dissolved in December.

The four shortlisted writers were among a list of 47 authors nominated by Sweden’s librarians, before voting was opened worldwide.

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