Independent publisher World Editions has snapped up two works by Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé, newly crowned winner of the inaugural Academy Prize, the 'Alternative Nobel'.
Last Friday (13th October) it was announced that the 81-year-old had won the new award, worth one million Swedish kronor (£85,000), which was established by a group of more than 100 Swedish cultural figures as a substitute for this year’s Nobel in Literature. The Nobel was not awarded for the first time since 1949 because of a sexual misconduct scandal relating to photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, reportedly convicted of rape earlier this month.
Judith Uyterlinde, publishing director at World Editions, has acquired world English rights for Condé’s latest novel, Le Fabuleux et Triste Destin d'Ivan et Ivana (The Fabulous and Sad Destiny of Ivan and Ivana) and En Attendant La Montée des Eaux (Waiting for the Water to Rise). Uyterlinde bought the rights from French Publisher J C Lattès for an undisclosed sum. World Editions will publish these two novels in autumn 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Uyterlinde says: “We received this wonderful news about the alternative Nobel Prize on the day we celebrated our World Editions Launch Party in New York City. Maryse Condé is the grande dame of Caribbean literature. Her brilliant storytelling abilities reflect the strong oral tradition Caribbean literature is rooted in, but at the same time her novels are very modern and her themes extremely timely. I have been admiring her work since I first read Segu. Her more recent novels also deserve to be translated into English."
She added: "We are extremely happy for her to have won such a prestigious prize, after a lifetime of writing great literature.”
Born the last of eight children in 1937 in Pointe-à-Pitre, Condé has taught at Columbia University in New York for many yours, before moving to the South of France. She has also been published by other publishers in the UK including Simon & Schuster UK and Penguin Classics.
World Editions originates from the Netherlands-based publishing house De Geus which was founded in 1983 by Eric Visser. Since 2016, it has been part of the independent publishing group Libella led by Vera Michalski. World Editions expanded its international presence in March this year by founding a US entity and now the company also has offices in London, Amsterdam and New York.
The Nobel was suspended this year following multiple resignations from the Swedish Academy resulting from the controversy, and "the reduced public confidence in the Academy”, it was decided in May. Instead the 2018 winner will be announced in parallel with the 2019 awardee.