Tales from the Heart by Maryse Conde
True Stories from My Childhood

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Maryse was the eighth child in her family, an unexpected one. Her father, a civil servant, had been awarded the Legion d'honneur; her elegant mother had been a schoolteacher. She arrived after a difficult pregnancy while the town of La Pointe, Guadeloupe was in the midst of celebrating Mardi Gras. She was raised to appreciate culture, the opera, the great French paintings and was sent to a privately-run school. Hers was a proud family in which appearances, skin tone, language, and class was important, her parents ever mindful of being a part of a world which for centuries had been reserved for Whites only.

In this collection of autobiographical essays, Maryse Condé vividly evokes the relationships and events which gave her childhood meaning: discovering her parents feelings of alienation; her first crush and short-lived romance; a falling out with her best friend over a frank assessment of her beauty; the death of her beloved grandmother when she was nine; an incident at a playground that was her first encounter with racism.

Maryse began to invent a universe of her own at an early age, and these gem-like vignettes capture the spirit of her fiction: haunting, powerful, poignant, and leavened with a streak of humor. They paint a wonderful picture of a little girl trying to find her place in the world, one that is redolent of the music and colors of the Caribbean, as well as of the harsher climate of Paris.

Tales from the Heart was awarded the Prix Yourcenar in 1999 for excellence in French writing by an author who resides in the United States.

About Maryse Conde

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Maryse Cond is Chair of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Columbia University. She has been the recipient of La Grand Prix Literaire de la Femme and the Prix de L'Academie Francaise as well as the Prix Yourcenar and the Prix Carbet de la Caraibe, and also a Guggenheim fellowship. She lives in New York with her husband Richard Philcox, who is the translator of her work.
Published January 1, 2004 by Soho Press. 158 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Born into a prominent black family whose parents believed they were the “most brilliant and the most intelligent people alive,” Condé (French Caribbean Literature/Columbia Univ.) is the last of eight children, and from childhood feels slighted by the “commonplace incidents” surrounding her birth,...

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The New York Times

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''because you're black,'' or how she watched with awe as her regal mother delivered a baby by pushing up her sleeves and shouting authoritatively in the Creole she had forbidden her children to use, Condé

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Publishers Weekly

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With a vivid memory for mood and details, Condé recalls the moral decline of her older brother, Sandrino, her torturous days in grade school and painful incidents stemming from her parents' insensitivity, such as firing the faithful family servant, Madonne, when she took a day off to care for her...

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Cara McDavitt

Cara McDavitt 10 Dec 2013

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