Waiting for the Waters to Rise

Longlist, National Book Awards 2021 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9781642860733
World Editions
Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe in 1937 as the youngest of eight siblings. She earned her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Paris-Sorbonne University and went on to have a distinguished academic career, receiving the title of Professor Emerita of French at Columbia University in New York, where she taught and lived for many years. (Photo credit: Claire Garate) More about this author >

Richard Philcox

Richard Philcox is the long-time translator of Maryse Conde’s works, beginning with her first novel. Philcox has also translated Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin White Masks. (Photo credit: World Editions) More about this author >

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Translated from the French


Babakar is a doctor living alone, with only the memories of his childhood in Mali. In his dreams, he receives visits from his blue-eyed mother and his ex-lover Azelia, both now gone, as are the hopes and aspirations he’s carried with him since his arrival in Guadeloupe. Until, one day, the child Anaïs comes into his life, forcing him to abandon his solitude. Anaïs’s Haitian mother died in childbirth, leaving her daughter destitute—now Babakar is all she has, and he wants to offer this little girl a future. Together they fly to Haiti, a beautiful, mysterious island plagued by violence, government corruption, and rebellion. Once there, Babakar and his two friends, the Haitian Movar and the Palestinian Fouad, three different identities looking for a more compassionate world, begin a desperate search for Anaïs’s family.