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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Life Lived Between Autobiography, Fiction, and History: Maryse Conde


This article explores early criticism of Maryse Condé’s first novel, Heremakhonon (1976), which characterized the text as a veiled yet accurate depiction of the author’s time in West Africa. This paper makes the argument that the historical value of the text is lost when viewed as an autobiography. On the contrary, the power of Heremakhonon’s narrative is best understood when the differences between Maryse Condé’s life and the central character of Veronica are recognized. Only then can the reader glean historical value in Condé’s work of fiction inspired by her experiences in post-colonial West Africa.

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