Born as Maryse Boucolon at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, she was the youngest of eight children. After having graduated from high school, she was sent to Lycée Fénelon and Sorbonne in Paris, where she majored in English. In 1959, she married Mamadou Condé, a Guinean actor. After graduating, she taught in Guinea, Ghana and Senegal. In 1981, she divorced, but the following year married Richard Philcox, English language translator of most of her novels.
In addition to her writings, Condé had a distinguished academic career. In 2004 she retired from Columbia University as Professor Emerita of French. She had previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, the Sorbonne, The University of Virginia, and the University of Nanterre.
Condé's novels explore racial, gender and cultural issues in a variety of historical eras and locales, including the Salem witch trials in I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (1992); the 19th-century Bambara Empire of Mali in Segu (1980); and the 20th-century building of the Panama Canal and its influence on increasing the West Indian middle class in "The tree of Life" (). Her novels trace the relationships between African peoples and the diaspora, especially the Caribbean. She has taken considerable distance from most Caribbean literary movements, such as Negritude and Creolité, and has often focused on topics with strong feminist concerns. A radical activist in her work as well as in her personal life, Condé has admitted: "I could not write anything... unless it has a certain political significance. I have nothing else to offer that remains important." Her recent writings have become increasingly autobiographical, such as Memories of My Childhood and Victoire, a biography of her grandmother. Who Slashed Celanire's Throat also shows traces of Condé's paternal great-grandmother.
- Heremakhonon (1976)
- I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (1986)
- Segu (1987)
- A Season in Rihata (1988)
- The Children of Segu (1989)
- An Tan Revolysion (Play, 1989)
- Tree of Life (1992)
- Crossing the Mangrove (1985)
- The Last of the African Kings (1994)
- Windward Heights (2008)
- Desirada (1979)
- Le coeur à rire et à pleurer - Souvenirs de mon enfance (1999)
- Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?: A Fantastical Tale (2004)
- The Story of the Cannibal Woman: A Novel (2007)
- Like Two Brothers (Play, 2007)
- Victoire: My Mother's Mother (2010)
- Works by Maryse Condé on Open Library at the Internet Archive
- Works about Maryse Condé in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Mekkawi, Mohamed. Maryse Condé: Novelist, Playwright, Critic, Teacher: An Introductory Biobibliography. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Libraries, 1990.