Born on the boat carrying his parents to Fort-de-France where he lived till the age of seven. After that he went to Gabon, where his father Héménéglide Maran was in the colonial service. After attending boarding school in Bordeaux, France, he joined the French Colonial service in French Equatorial Africa. It was his experience there that was the basis for many of his novels, including Batouala: A True Black Novel, which won the Prix Goncourt.
- La Maison du Bonheur (poetry, 1909)
- La Vie Intérieure (poetry, 1912)
- Batouala (novel, 1921)
- Le Livre de la Brousse (novel, 1934)
- Un Homme pareil aux autres (novel, 1947)