“Known to its one-time Carib indian population as “karukera”, or “island of beautiful waters”, the French territory of Guadeloupe is a centre of Caribbean Creole culture. French, African and Caribbean influences infuse its music, dance, food and widely-spoken Creole French patois.”
Visited in 1493 by the explorer Christopher Columbus , who named it after a Spanish monastery, the territory Guadeloupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands, including Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (2), Saint-Barthelemy, Iles de la Petite Terre, and Saint-Martin (French part of the island of Saint Martin).
Originally, the island was home to Carib indians who resisted Spanish attempts to settle the islands until French colonists arrived in the 17th century, wiping out the Carib population and claiming it as French possession in 1635. The settlers brought slaves from Africa to work on plantations and Guadeloupe prospered through trade in sugar and tobacco.
After several British occupations in the 18th and early 19th centuries – and a brief period of nominal Swedish rule – the territory was restored to France. It became a French “department” in 1946, and from the 1980s, a region of France.”
Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. She studied at the Université de Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), where she took her doctorate in Comparative Literature (1975). Her research was on Black stereotypes in Caribbean literature. For twelve years, she lived in West Africa : Guinea , Ghana , Senegal , where she taught French at various levels. She returned to France in 1973 to teach Francophone Literature at Paris VII (Jussieu), X ( Nanterre ), and III (Sorbonne Nouvelle). Early in her career, she tried her hand at dramatic writing but took to the novel in 1976, producing Heremakhonon inspired by events of her life in West Africa