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"A wondrous novel" (New York Times) by the winner of the 2018 Alternative Nobel prize in literature (the New Academy Prize)

The year is 1797, and the kingdom of Segu is flourishing, fed by the wealth of its noblemen and the power of its warriors. The people of Segu, the Bambara, are guided by their griots and priests; their lives are ruled by the elements. But even their soothsayers can only hint at the changes to come, for the battle of the soul of Africa has begun. From the east comes a new religion, Islam, and from the West, the slave trade.

Segu follows the life of Dousika Traore, the king’s most trusted advisor, and his four sons, whose fates embody the forces tearing at the fabric of the nation. There is Tiekoro, who renounces his people’s religion and embraces Islam; Siga, who defends tradition, but becomes a merchant; Naba, who is kidnapped by slave traders; and Malobali, who becomes a mercenary and halfhearted Christian.

Based on actual events, Segu transports the reader to a fascinating time in history, capturing the earthy spirituality, religious fervor, and violent nature of a people and a growing nation trying to cope with jihads, national rivalries, racism, amid the vagaries of commerce.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140259490
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1996
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 427,758
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A native of Guadeloupe, Maryse Condé lived for many years in Paris, where she taught West Indian literature at the Sorbonne. The author of several novels that have been well received in France (both Segu and its sequel were best-sellers), she has lectured widely in the United States and now divides her time between Guadeloupe and New York city, where she teaches at Columbia University.

What People are Saying About This

Maya Angelou

Condé's story is rich and colorful and glorious. It falls over continents and centuries to find its way into the reader's heart.

Customer Reviews

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Segu 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
uvula_fr_b4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazing, eye-opening novel about the Malian empire of Ségou (or Bamana Empire, or Bambara Empire; 1712-1861) that spans roughly from the 1790s to 1860, just before El Hajj Umar Tall, a Senegalese politician and founder of the Toucouleur Empire, conquered Ségou in 1861. While there are no stand-out characters in this novel, my interest never flagged: the real protagonists are the empire of Ségou and the Bambara people. Due to the focus on the natives of West Africa, keeping track of the date as events unfold is problematic, but there is so much fascinating information that was new to me that I didn't mind. Scottish explorer Mungo Park makes a brief cameo; little did the West African peoples realize that the importance of his explorations of the Niger River would prove to be far, far greater than they gave them credit at the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maryse Conde has always excelled by using real life experiences and making them seem as if it's 100% fiction. There is no denying that while living in different nations on the continent Africa she was busy doing research on her own ancestry. Conde comes from an era when people of African descent search desperately to find their ancestors. What Maryse does with this novel is weave fiction and nonfictional elements into Segu. As a student interested in French Literature and African American Studies, with a father thats from Guadeloupe I am deeply in love with Conde's rich cannon of literary work and urge everyone to read this novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. The style that the book is written in does wonders in holding the reader glued to the pages. I particularly enjoyed Conde's way of putting fictional caracters and actual history together. In short, I recommend this book to all those who are looking for a window into another world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Segu has a fantastic story line and is full of great points, views, and ideas about everything from family to the Trans Atlantic slave trade. However Maryse Conde writes the story in such a drab and unimaginative light, you are dozing off just before you get to the good parts. There were times when I began reading and lost total interest in the story altogether and starting thinking of other things to be reading. The wording of the story itself makes you want to sleep sometimes. Thinking of the same thing over again, at some points it seems almost repetative as you see the terms 'shea butter' and 'gris-gris' almost a million times as well as 'prostrate' and 'penetrate'. A thesaurus could have been very helpful to Conde while writing this piece. I would have honestly given the story one star had it not displayed such a great betrayal of family and struggles with life. I would recommend this story to those who are actually willing to fully submit to a book of this nature solely for the purpose of education (note: keep a pen and pad ready when you read this, your seriously going to need it)but, if you are looking for a leisure time novel that is fun, exciting, and interesting don't even waste your money. Instead check out the Encyclopedia, it is more exciting and insightful then this!