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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  4,949 ratings  ·  482 reviews
"Stunning...Maryse Conde's imaginative subversion of historical records forms a critque of contemporary American society and its ingrained racism and sexism." THE BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE

At the age of seven, Tituba watched as her mother was hanged for daring to wound a plantation owner who tried to rape her. She was raised from then on by Mama Yaya, a gifted woman who shared wi
Paperback, 225 pages
Published January 3rd 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published 1986)
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Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Wow. Wow. I have no words. I was recommended this book by my Black literature professor, and I already knew that all of her recommendations slap ... so I don't know why I am as shocked as I am right now but this book, man, this book is it. I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem will go down as one of my favorites of 2020, if not of all time.

Before we get into it (and boy, we will get into it), I would look to draw your attention to the wonderful Maryse Condé who crafted this masterpiece. Maryse C
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What is a witch? I noticed that when he said the word, it was marked with disapproval. Why should that be? Why? Isn't the ability to communicate with the invisible world, to keep constant links with the dead, to care for others and heal, a superior gift of nature that inspires respect, admiration, and gratitude?"- Maryse Condé, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

With my interest in discovering hidden stories, this book was right up my alley. I can hardly think of a worse fate than being an enslav

I'm flabbergasted by anyone proclaiming the "death of the novel" in this day and age, I really am. Not only is the word "novel" built on arbitrary Eurocentric standards that weren't even validated by academia until men wrested the structure away from female writers, where's that infamous lust for weirdly wrought frontiers so proudly held up by the status quo? Is it the fanfiction spanning thousands of 250-word-average pages that scares one to pieces? Or is it the burgeoning non-European sen
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.75 (the last-quarter star left off due to my own failings)

I came to this novel expecting historical fiction of a sort, a reimagining and expansion of the story of a woman central to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century. Though the author makes use of the historical record, this is not ‘mere’ historical fiction; it’s so much more: folklore, feminist text, epic tale, even speculative fiction of a sort.

Condé works from one of the assertions that Tituba was from Barbados, taken from there by
Paul Fulcher
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
There would never, ever be a careful, sensitive biography recreating my life and its suffering.

The Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé was the first - and probably the last given its one off purpose - winner of The New Academy Prize in Literature - create after the problems that prevented the Nobel Prize being awarded this year. See

The citation read:
Maryse Condé is a grand storyteller. Her authorship belongs to world literature. In her work, she describes the rava
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Firstly, it haunts me still, that I have only heard of Condé from the recent call for papers for the upcoming 2013 Medgar Evers National Black Writers Conference. Immediately, I had to take a look at anything that was hers translated into English. What a magickal experience it was to read this fictional rendition of this mythic character for whom I have made many a frame of reference, but had not heard this version of her story.

Condé's writing is eloquent, sharp, intriguing, and will grip your
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, library
This novel imagines the life of Tituba, one of the first 3 women arrested in the Salem witch trials. She was a slave in the household of the Reverend Parris and little is known of her life before or after the trials. This is a fascinating book that I found hard to stop reading. The treatment of slaves, the ridiculous beliefs of the puritans, racism and sexism, and how history has forgotten this black woman as unimportant, are all covered. It’s told from Titubas point of view. Nineteen women were ...more
This novel by Marysé Conde, originally from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, was published in 1986 and translated from French to English in 1992. It was awarded France’s Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986. It recounts the story of Tituba, whose history has been excluded from most accounts of the Salem Witch Trials. Conde did extensive research to create this novel told in the voice of Tituba.

Tituba was the product of the rape her16-year-old mother experienced on a British ship sailing
It is a rite of passage for many, if not all, American students to read Miller’s The Crucible. That pretty much is the coverage of the Salem Witch Trials, but not McCarthyism.
Conde’s book is the story of Tituba, who many see as the starting point of the Salem crisis. Conde’s plot starts with Tituba’s mother and her enslavement. The focus is on Tituba, not on the trials. Tituba’s mother and father’s tale is all too tragic, and all too true. Tituba’s escape and then her enslavement not only allow
Sep 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
It is risky to damn a clearly feminist text when you're a man. Thankfully, that is a risk I'm happy to take. There are times when we need to accept that quality does not mean ideology, and I feel this is a perfect example thereof.

For starters, there is a decided discrepancy between the book's decided purpose (giving a voice for a character in history who has been marginalized) and the actual result of any speculative historical fiction. This can be no more a true take on who Tituba was than the
Emily M
A flawed, if interesting, historical retelling.

Little is known about Tituba Indian, the black slave accused of witchcraft in Salem. Historically, it’s unclear even if she was from the Caribbean or was an indigenous American. She “confessed” to her crimes and so was spared the noose, but disappeared from history.

Maryse Condé here reimagines her life from childhood to death in a narrative that includes witchcraft, voodoo, musings on racism and sexism, and metafictional crossovers. That descriptio
Updated: February 24, 2020.
4. 5 stars

I, Tituba is, amongst other things, a parody of the heroic journey readers may be familiar with from Greek/Roman myths. Tituba is aware of how White historians erased her from history and Condé is the conduit through which she can finally tell her tale.

On a second read one thing that stands out to me is how Condé shapes the book to exist in that in-between space between "authentic" slave narrative in which she gives the illusion the reader is learning the st
If you don't know Maryse Condé, read her now. She wrote this book in 1986 about Tituba, a black slave from Barbados. We know very little about Tituba's actual life from the history books. Only what she said leading up to and pertaining to the Salem Witch trials.

Other than that, she may have not existed. It reminds me of the one mention in history books of the Moroccan slave who survived the Spanish expedition in Florida in The Moor's Account. So much is covered over, a hand moves over the eyes,
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I really really really wish I had liked this more. Instead I found myself bored throughout the book. If the author, Maryse Conde had actually I think been able to make me feel like she had a good sense of who Tituba was I would have enjoyed this more.

Conde decides to have Tituba tell her mother's story and her stepfather's story and how she came to be a free slave until she went to live with John Indian.

I didn't really like the set-up to Tituba's life since it really didn't make much sense tha
Oct 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Feminist reclamation lit. At first glance, the Salem Witch Trials from the perspective of Tituba, the Black enslaved woman from Barbados who was the friend and first accused of the bewitched girls. Condé used this woman's jarring omission from history (a mere mention, and none of the later absolution given the other "witches," in most works about the Trials) to write an entire life-- inner and outer-- of which the witch trials play only a role. Tituba is a healer, an erotic lover (in contrast to ...more
When I opened I, Tituba to begin reading, on the first page there is a quote from the author Maryse Condé that reads:
Tituba and I lived for a year on the closest of terms.
During our endless conversations she told me things she had confided to nobody else.

It gave me such a good feeling to read that, to know that Condé was doing here, what she does in her novel (though she calls it a work of non fiction) Victoire: My Mother's Mother, when the grandmother she had never met, would awaken her from he
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a quick but powerful novelization of Tituba's life and it clearly illustrated the horrific trauma and hypocrisy of slavery, racism, sexism, and also the Puritan religion. I was fascinated by Tituba's use of spirits, herbs, and magic as a matter of course in her life, though not so enraptured with the animal sacrifices.

Of course, Condé, doesn't let modern readers off the hook at all, nor should she, so we are often confronted with the bitter fact that the horrors and injustices of Titub
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Five stars but for lack of subtlety

Damn! The beginning was so promising and then... This book would have been much better without the anachronisms and the oh-so-obvious agenda/reference to ideology. It's feminist and anti-racist and liberal and you know how I know? Because it states it! You can find the terms: racist, feminist, holocaust, welfare state in the book. They are mentioned by 17th century women! Thus what could have been an interesting, insightful, albeit fictional rendering of the li
Jennifer (the_pumpkin_reads)
What happened to all the meat of this story? Some books I complain are too long and needed a good editing, this book needing some more time to cook.
Although it's hard read, as books about slavery are, this novel is also a very compelling and I highly recommend it! Little is recorded about the actual historical person Tituba who figured in the notorious Salem Witch Trials, in fact it is not even sure if she was a slave originally from Barbados or an indigenous one. Henry Miller casts her as being from Barbados in The Crucible, as does Maryse Conde. This book however has little to do with the Henry Miller play, rather Conde wished to give lif ...more
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’ve been looking forward to reading Maryse Condé for ages, and I always wanted to start with this title: I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (translated from French by Condé’s husband, Richard Philcox). This book did not disappoint. It’s a fictional exposition of the real life of Tituba, an enslaved woman who was the first person accused of witchcraft during the 1692 Salem witch trials. She was imprisoned for over a year after confessing to her “crimes” under duress, and then was once again enslave ...more
Kobe Bryant
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
More of a regular story than I expected
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am fascinated with the Salem Witch trails and I loved the Crucible, one of my favorite characters from the Crucible was Tituba, though she did not play a very large role, I always found her quite intriguing so I loved the concept of this book and was quite excited about it.

After reading it I am left with mix feelings. On the one hand it was interesting to see things from the persepctive and to watch how things unraveled from an outsiders point of view and it was also interesting seeing the wa
David Anderson
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Condé takes a forgotten figure from history and gives her a compelling voice to tell her story. But be forewarned, this is not historical fiction. Stylistically this is a post-modern mock-epic that uses the known historical basics to rift on a large number of issues well beyond the religious bigotry of the Salem witch trials as they were treated by Arthur Miller in The Crucible, including slavery and racism, colonialism, and the patriarchy. The novel is intentionally anachronistic as Tituba at t ...more
Angie Taylor
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting fictional depiction of a real black woman named Tituba, who was accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch trials. From a historical point of view it was interesting and informative to learn about someone, even if the majority of the details are fictitious, for whom there is hardly and written documentation about. Slavery is portrayed in all its gory awfulness, and again has left me confused with history and why anyone could ever think slavery was okay. From a wri ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Would recommend this historically-based tale to readers looking to hear a different perspective on the Salem Witch Trials.
Orla Hegarty
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is an imagined history of an actual person, Tituba. A person I didn't know existed until this year. Tituba was a black woman persecuted during the Salem witch trials in 17th century Puritan America.

Tituba's herstory comes to life in this imagining - complete with parody and current day intersections of feminism and racism.

This edition also had an author interview from the early 1990s that reveals a lot of information about the French novelist and the genre of Caribbean literature that
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't write a review for everything, and I'm not going to for this. But you might want to check out my blog post on Unbound about this book.

Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great beginning and ending. A bit slow in the middle.
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers, friends, family.
Recommended to Violetsin by: teacher
if anything, this book was intense. i liked it, above all, but there were some very descriptive parts where not very pleasent things were going on, but i stuck through it and loved it all in the end.
basically, what happens is this: tituba somehow gets sold or bought into slavery and has to move to Salem, Mass. everyone knows about her healing powers, that she refuses to use for evil even though poeple tell her to, and she gets convicted of being a witch. even her own husband turns on her so he c
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Maryse Condé is a Guadeloupean, French language author of historical fiction, best known for her novel Segu. Maryse Condé was born as Maryse Boucolon at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, the youngest of eight children. In 1953, her parents sent her to study at Lycée Fénelon and Sorbonne in Paris, where she majored in English. In 1959, she married Mamadou Condé, an Guinean actor. After graduating, she ta ...more

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