|Internationally acclaimed writer, novelist, and essayist Maryse Condé, Professor Emeritus at the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Columbia University, New York, is regarded as one of the most original contemporary voices in the transnational literary world. Her writings not only include provocative topics and characters, innovative and experimental narrative techniques, but also cross all types of genres. At the reading in her honour, she allows the audience an insight into her personal and literary vision of Black Atlantic, interweaving a broad spectrum of experiences and characters, with their extremely varied migrations, shaped by the Diaspora, with the threads of her own life, a traveller across ages, views of the world, languages, and societies.
Her novels address the themes of the Black Diaspora, and her characters experience migration in manifold ways, reflecting Condés own passage through time, different societies, languages and world-views. This is true not only of her early works Hérémakhonon (1976), Une saison à Rihata (1981) and Ségou (1984/85), but also to her more recent novel La migration des coeurs (1995).
In her texts, Maryse Condé writes about the bewildering search for identity, in which "Africa" often symbolises a link to the past or the idea of immersing oneself in it. In this sense, her life - which she herself has called "nomadic" - fits closely with the nature of her writing. She was born in Guadeloupe, she moved to Paris to study both classical philology and French and English literature.
She travelled to Africa and lived for twelve years in Guinea, Ghana and Senegal. After returning to Paris, she completed a dissertation on black stereotypes in West Indian literature. She has taught West Indian literature and creative writing at the Sorbonne and received various teaching assignments in the USA. She moved back to Guadeloupe in the mid-1980s and currently divides her time between the USA, France and Guadeloupe - when not interrupted by her teaching and lecturing activities.
Maryse Condé has won many awards, including Le Grand Prix de la femme (1986) and Le Prix de lAcadémie Française (1988).
Ottmar Ette, Dr., born in the Black Forest in 1956, Professor of Romance Literature at the University of Potsdam since October 1995. Dissertation at the University of Freiburg in Bresgau (1990). Postdoctoral dissertation at the Catholic University of Eichstätt (1995). Several guest professorships in: Toluca, Mexico(UAEM); Mexico City (UAM Iztapalapa, UNAM Colegio de México); Maine, USA; and San José, Costa Rica (UCR).
Ottmar Ette is one of the most prominent voices in the study of Romance literatures in Germany. With great intensity, a keen intuition and profound knowledge, he has studied Spanish- and French-language texts by transnational authors moving between the Caribbean, the USA and Europe.
His most important publications are A. v. Humboldt: Reise in die Äquinoktial-Gegenden (1991, editor) José Martí (1991), Roland Barthes (1998), Literature on the Move (2001), Weltbewusstsein: Alexander von Humboldt und das unvollendete Projekt einer anderen Moderne (2002), and ÜberLebenswissen: Die Aufgabe der Philologie (2004).