by Celia Britton
Edouard Glissant at the Saint Malo book fair in 2009. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images Europe Edouard Glissant, who has died aged 82, was one of the most important writers of the French Caribbean. His novels, with their combination of textual complexity and emotional intensity, first brought him to public attention. More recently, he had become better known for collections of essays such as Poétique de la Relation (Poetics of Relation, 1990), Traité du Tout-Monde (Treatise On the Whole World, 1996) and Philosophie de la Relation (Philosophy of Relation, 2009). Glissant's body of work, comprising eight novels, nine volumes of poetry, one play and 15 collections of essays, constitutes not only a profound reflection on colonialism, slavery and racism, but also a powerful vision of a world where cultural diversity flourishes. He was shortlisted for the Nobel prize for literature in 1992.
Born on the island of Martinique, Glissant was shaped by his experience as a colonised subject whose African ancestors had been transported to the Caribbean and whose lives as slaves were largely unrecorded. This loss of history and the marginalisation some Martinicans feel, as inhabitants of a tiny island on the fringes of the French-speaking world, weighed heavily on his early writing. Martinique's accession to the status of French overseas department in the late 1940s merely, in his eyes, reinforced this sense of alienation.
• Edouard Glissant, writer, born 21 September 1928; died 3 February 2011