Cynthia Mc Leod

Cynthia Mc Leod was born in 1936 in Paramaribo, Suriname. She debuted in 1995 with Hoe duur was de suiker? (How Much Was the Sugar?) - a novel that became an unexpected and unprecedented best seller in Suriname. A year later, her second novel appeared, Ma Rochelle passée: welkom in el Dorado (Ma Rochelle passée: Welcome to El Dorado), and the study on Elisabeth Samson, which she later adapted as De vrije negerin Elisabeth: gevangene van kleur (The Free Negress Elizabeth: Prisoner of Colour). Mc Leod also published Tweemaal Mariënburg (Twice Mariënburg; 1997) and Toen het vakantie was (During the Holidays; 1999), a children’s book.

The Free Negress Elisabeth

The Free Negress Elisabeth

(Conserve, 2000, 508 pages)

As a former colonial power, the Netherlands has a long tradition of writers inspired by the tropics. Their ‘colonial’ novels and accounts of their travels added a colourful, exotic element to Dutch literature, but for a long time the voice of the indigenous populations themselves remained unheard. It was only after the Second World War, when decolonisation was in full swing, that books began to appear in which the inhabitants themselves talked of their experiences; sometimes as immigrants in the Netherlands, sometimes writing from their original homeland, like Cynthia Mc Leod. She comes from Suriname, which became independent in 1975 and where Dutch is still spoken.

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