This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the general amnesty for witches two years later. Maryse Condé brings Tituba out of historical silence and creates for her a fictional childhood, adolescence, and old age. She turns her into what she calls "a sort of female hero, an epic heroine, like the legendary 'Nanny of the maroons, '" who, schooled in the sorcery and magical ritual of obeah, is arrested for healing members of the family that owns her.
CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated from French
This book has been supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agencY.
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"In less sure hands, this short, powerful novel, which won France's Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986, might well have become merely an extended denunciation of a perverted and evil society. What makes it larger and richer are Ms. Condé's gift for storytelling and her unswerving focus on her characters, combined with her mordant sense of humor." -- "New York Times Book Review"
"At once playful and searing, Condé's work critiques ostensibly white, male versions of history and literature by appropriating them." -- "Publishers Weekly"
"Condé is one of the most prolific writers of the Caribbean and perhaps the most powerful woman's voice in contemporary literature of the Americas. Her interpretation of the Salem witch trials, recast from her own dreams, is a remarkable work of historical fiction that is a haunting and powerful reminder of the dangers of intolerance of differences." -- "CHOICE"
"Maryse Condé's imaginative subversion of historical records forms a critique of contemporary American society and its ingrained racism and sexism that is as discomfiting as Arthur Miller's critique, based on the same historical material, of McCarthyism and 1950s America in his play 'The Crucible.'"