French professor explores writings of author Maryse Conde
A new book by Nicole Simek, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures (French) and general studies, looks closely at the writings of Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé, whose historical fiction probes everything from gender to colonialism to stereotypical images of literary characters.
Simek’s book, aptly titled “Eating Well, Reading Well: Maryse Condé and the Ethics of Interpretation,” examines Condé’s work as sharply as Condé herself “challenges the reader with the problematic, yet pragmatic, need to read well.”
Reading well for Condé means reading closely, apprehending literature as ethical critique rather than moral philosophy. Researching well for Simek meant mining and illuminating both universal and particular elements in Condé’s work: history, globalization, community, ethics, trauma and subjectivity.
Simek and her husband, Zahi Zalloua, also assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures (French) and general studies at Whitman, have collaborated on another publication as well. They are coeditors of the new issue of the Dalhousie French Studies journal (Winter 2007). The theme of the issue is “Representations of Trauma in French and Francophone Literature,” and Zalloua has an essay in the collection. Zalloua, author of “Montaigne and the Ethics of Skepticism,” also is working with Anne Conners ’08 on an Abshire Award project that explores magic realism in Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved.”