The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana

The latest novel from the grande dame of Caribbean literature

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 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, her most modern novel to date, Maryse Condé, winner of the New Academy Prize (the ‘Alternative Nobel’) in Literature in 2018, offers an impressive picture of a colorful yet turbulent 21st century.

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Publication date

5 May, 2020




Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe in 1937 as the youngest of eight siblings. Condé earned her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Paris-Sorbonne … Read more


Praise for Marysé Conde

“She describes the ravages of colonialism and the post-colonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming. In her stories the dead live close to the living in a world where gender, race, and class are constantly turned over in new constellations.”
ANN PÅLSSON, Jury, New Academy Prize in Literature

“Condé is a born storyteller.”
Publishers Weekly

“Maryse Condé is the grande dame of Caribbean literature.”

Praise for The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana

“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.”
Le Monde

“Condé’s latest novel is a beautiful and dramatic story with its origins in the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Masterly.”
Afrique Magazine

“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.”
World Literature Today

“This new novel, written in an almost exuberant style, contains many typical Condé elements, in particular the mix of a small family with global events, and the nuances of existing images.”
De Volkskrant