Born in Guadeloupe, Ivan and Ivana are twins with a bond so strong they become afraid of their feelings for one another. When their mother sends them off to live with their father in Mali they begin to grow apart, until, as young adults in Paris, Ivana’s youthful altruism compels her to join the police academy, while Ivan, stunted by early experiences of rejection and exploitation, walks the path of radicalization. The twins, unable to live either with or without each other, become perpetrator and victim in a wave of violent attacks. In The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana, Maryse Condé, winner of the 2018 Alternative Nobel prize in literature, touches upon major contemporary issues such as racism, terrorism, political corruption, economic inequality, globalization, and migration. With her most modern novel to date, this master storyteller offers an impressive picture of a colorful yet turbulent 21st century.
<p>“<i>The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana</i> is a rollicking, rumbustious and slyly mischievous <i>Candide</i> for our times.” <b>—Maya Jaggi, <i>The Guardian</i></b></p><p>“Condé is at her signature best: offering complex, polyphonic and ultimately shattering stories whose provocations linger long after the final pages...The book is a reflection on the dangers of binary thinking…One is never on steady ground with Condé; she is not an ideologue, and hers is not the kind of liberal, safe, down-the-line morality that leaves the reader unimplicated.” <b>—Justin Torres, <i>The New York Times</i></b></p><p>“The turbulent narrative unfolds in a deceptively relaxed manner; incidents happen with the abrupt motivelessness of fairytale, but the novel is all the more powerful for those effects.” <b>—<i>The Sunday Times</i></b></p><p>“<i>The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana</i> is a searing literary portrait of the exploitation of immigrants, the corruption of governments, and the powerful emergence of radicalism, with astute commentary on how these elements breed trauma, generation after generation.” <b>—<i>Foreword Reviews</i></b></p><p>“Set during the Charlie Hedbo attacks, this is a fast-paced saga that reveals a seldom-addressed period of African history. Condé’s writing is both lyrical and textured, and showcases her tremendous talents.” <b>—<i>Booklist</i></b></p><p>“Condé’s scope is expansive: cosmic, global, and deeply personal. The result is a story from the perspective of the Global South that enthralls as it explores the urgent economic and cultural contradictions of post-colonialism, globalization, class, and alienation.” <b>—<i>The Arts Fuse</i></b></p><p>“Told by a charming, lively third-person narrator, the novel evokes its various settings beautifully and takes a penetrating, wide-ranging look at the effects of racism, colonialism, and inequality.” <b>—<i>Bookriot</i></b></p><p>"What an astounding novel. Never have I read anything so wild and loving, so tender and ruthless. Condé is one of our greatest writers, a literary sorcerer but here she has outdone even herself, summoned a storm from out of the world’s troubled heart. Ivan and Ivana, in their love, in their Attic fates, mirror our species’ terrible brokenness and it’s improbable grace." <b>—JUNOT DÍAZ</b>/p><p>"The breadth, depth, and power of Maryse Condé’s majestic work is exceptionally remarkable. <i>The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana</i> is a superb addition to this incomparable oeuvre, and is one of Condé’s most timely, virtuoso, and breathtaking novels." <b>—EDWIDGE DANTICAT</b></p><p>“Brilliantly imagined, Maryse Condé’s new novel presents a dual bildungsroman of twins born into poverty in the African diaspora and follows their global travels to its shocking ending. Once again, Condé transmutes contemporary political traumas into a mesmerizing family fable.” <b>—HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.</b></p><p>"Maryse Condé’s prodigious fictional universes are founded on a radical and generative disregard for boundaries based on geography, religion, history, race, and gender. In <i>The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana</i>, the most intimate human relationships acquire meaning only on the scale of the world-historical, and as we follow the twins in their fated journey from the Caribbean to Africa and Europe, we learn about love, happiness, calamity, and, at last, the survival of hope." <b>—ANGELA Y. DAVIS</b></p><p>"Maryse Condé offers us with <i>The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana</i> yet another ambitious, continent-crossing whirlwind of a literary journey. The marvelous siblings at the heart of her tale are inspiring and unsettling in equal measure, richly drawn incarnations of the contemporary postcolonial individual in perpetual geographic and cultural movement. It is a remarkable story from start to finish." <b>—KAIAMA L. GLOVER</b></p><p>"Maryse Condé is a treasure of world literature, writing from the center of the African diaspora with brilliance and a profound understanding of all humanity." <b>—RUSSELL BANKS</b></p><p>“An exploration of contemporary chaos” <b>—<i>France-Amérique</i></b></p><p>“Maryse Condé addresses very contemporary issues in her latest novel: racism, jihadi terrorism, political corruption and violence, economic inequality in Guadeloupe and metropolitan France, globalization and immigration.” —<em>World Literature Today</em><br>“Condé’s latest novel is a beautiful and dramatic story with its origins in the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Masterly.” — <em>Afrique Magazine</em><br>“With this story of a young man from Guadeloupe who finds himself persuaded by the pull of jihad, Condé has written one of her most impressive novels to date, one that seamlessly resonates with the problems of our time.” — <em>Le Monde</em><br>“Maryse Condé is the grande dame of Caribbean literature.” — <em>NCRV Gids</em><br>“The new novel, written in an almost exuberant style, contains many typical Condé elements, in particular the mix of a small family story and the great history, and the nuances of existing images.” — <em>De Volkskrant</em></p><p>Praise for <em>Segu</em><br>“The most significant novel about black Africa published in many a year.” — <em>The New York Times Book Review</em><br> “Condé is a born storyteller.” — <em>Publishers Weekly</em><br>“Exotic, richly textured and detailed, this narrative, alternating between the lives of various characters, illuminates magnificently a little known historical period. Virtually every page glitters with nuggets of cultural fascination.” — Howard Kaplan, <em>Los Angeles Times</em><br>“A wondrous novel about a period of African history few other writers have addressed. . . . Much of the novel’s radiance comes from the lush description of a traditional life that is both exotic and violent.” — Charles L. Larson, <em>The New York Times Book Review</em><br>“With the dazzling storytelling skills of an African griot, Maryse Condé has written a rich, fast-paced saga of a great kingdom during the tumultuous period of the slave trade and the coming of Islam. <em>Segu</em> is history as vivid and immediate as today. It has restored a part of my past that has long been missing.” — Paule Marshall, author of <em>Daughters</em><br>“<em>Segu</em> is an overwhelming accomplishment. It injects into the density of history characters who are as alive as you and I. Passionate, lusty, greedy, they are in conflict with themselves as well as with God and Mammon. Maryse Condé has done us all a tremendous service by rendering a history so compelling and exciting. <em>Segu</em> is a literary masterpiece I could not put down.” — Louise Meriwether<br>“A stunning reaffirmation of Africa and its peoples as set down by others whose works have gone unnoticed. Ms. Condé not only backs them up, but provides new insights as well . . . <em>Segu</em> has its own dynamic. It’s a starburst.” — John A. Williams<br>“A novel of wide scope, depth and power. Condé proves herself a careful observer of human behavior as she helps the reader to understand and feel the turmoil of a confused continent. She captures a fascinating time in history with its earth spirituality, religious fervor and the violent nature of a people and their growing nation . . . Brims over with intelligence and wit.” — <em>Anniston Star </em>(Alabama)<br>“<em>Segu</em>, a tale of love and intrigue, is fascinating, for the reader experiences the fervor of those tumultuous times.” — <em>Chattanooga News-Free Press</em></p>