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Caryl Phillips is the author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, including Dancing in the Dark, Colour Me English, Crossing the River, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and A Distant Shore, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. His other awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
This is a beautifully articulate and poignant novel, at times it maintains a discreet solitary distance from its own moving story, ensuring that as moments of realisation steal into your consciousness and understanding flows into your heart… they stay with you. The author spirals through time, teases history and suggests new beginnings. The story branches three ways, breathtakingly different, remote yet entwined, flowing together and unfurling heartbreaking moments of perception and compassion. The isolation of the characters is shocking, they do not encourage affection or intimacy, their story isn't neat, tidy, clean or explained, you are instead left to observe, to recognise and so find yourself jolted and shaken into awareness, sorrow and regret and yet somehow a fluttering of hope steals across the pages for a story yet untold. ’Wuthering Heights’ and the Bronte family are intrinsically linked to this story, if you haven't yet met Emily, Charlotte and Anne, your journey through ’The Lost Child’ will potentially introduce you to some new companions. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
This is a beautifully articulate and poignant novel, at times it maintains a discreet solitary distance from its own moving story, ensuring that as moments of realisation steal into your consciousness and understanding flows into your heart… they stay with you. The author spirals through time, teases history and suggests new beginnings. The story branches three ways, breathtakingly different, remote yet entwined, flowing together and unfurling heartbreaking moments of perception and compassion. The isolation of the characters is shocking, they do not encourage affection or intimacy, their story isn't neat, tidy, clean or explained, you are instead left to observe, to recognise and so find yourself jolted and shaken into awareness, sorrow and regret and yet somehow a fluttering of hope steals across the pages for a story yet untold. ’Wuthering Heights’ and the Bronte family are intrinsically linked to this story, if you haven't yet met Emily, Charlotte and Anne, your journey through ’The Lost Child’ will potentially introduce you to some new companions. ~ Liz Robinson
Discover this heartrending story of orphans, outcasts and the grip of the past from award-winning novelist Caryl Phillips - inspired by Wuthering Heights. It is the 1960s. Isolated from her parents after falling in love with a foreigner, Monica Johnson raises her sons in the shadow of the wild Yorkshire moors. But when her younger son Tommy, a loner who is bullied at school, disappears, the family bond is demolished - with devastating consequences. Deftly intertwined with this modern narrative is the story of the ragged childhood of Emily Bronte's Heathcliff, one of literature's most enigmatic lost boys. Recovering the mysteries of the past to illuminate the predicaments of the present, The Lost Child is an exquisite novel about exile, freedom and what it is to belong. 'Heartbreaking...compelling' Independent
Three plays by playwright and novelist Caryl Phillips, written in the 1980s and collected here for the first time. Strange Fruit is a powerful study of a black family caught between two cultures; Where There is Darkness examines the plight of a West Indian man, Albert Williams, on the eve of his return to the Caribbean after an absence of twenty-five years; The Shelter alternates between the late eighteenth-century and 1950s London, exploring the relationship between a black man and a white woman.
I go half way round the world and back thinking I'd made some sort of discovery and come back to find the same damn lies, the same white lies, the same black lies. Alvin and Errol can't picture much of a future for themselves. They're young, Black and living in England in the 1980s, with an entire country and political system set against them. Instead they focus firmly on their past - the sunny Caribbean and heroic father they left behind when their mother brought them to England twenty years ago. But when Alvin returns home from his grandfather's funeral a new version of their past emerges, and the two brothers are caught in a desperate struggle to unearth the truth about their existence. Powerful and compelling, Strange Fruit by Caryl Phillips (winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize) is the story of a family caught between two cultures, and the uncrossable no man's land that can come between parents and their children.
Voller Intensitat und Eindringlichkeit erzahlt Caryl Phillips Geschichten von Versklavung und Unterwerfung, die von einer Generation an die nachste weitergegeben werden. Er imaginiert die Stimmen derer, denen Unrecht zugefugt wird, und diese Stimmen lassen den Leser nicht mehr los.(Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine fruhere Ausgabe.)
Caryl Phillips findet fur seine Darstellung der unuberbruckbaren Konflikte in der englischen Kolonialgesellschaft eine subtil ausgearbeitete Form von Zweistimmigkeit. Mit Emily, der weien Tochter des englischen Plantagenbesitzers, und Cambridge, dem schwarzen Sklaven, treffen zwei vollig verschiedene Menschen und Kulturen aufeinander, die in dieser Tragodie zu keiner Verstandigung finden.(Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine fruhere Ausgabe.)
What do we mean by 'English'? How does that image square with reality? How does our island look from abroad, and what aspects of our experience do we share with, for example, America - a nation built by outsiders and the huddled masses? Taking as its starting point a moving recollection of growing up in Leeds during the 1970s, Colour Me English broadens into a reflective, entertaining and challenging collection of essays and other non-fiction writing which ranges from the literary to the cultural and autobiographical. Elsewhere, Caryl Phillips goes on to describe the experience of living and working in America, and travels in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Belgium and France and beyond. He considers the lives and works of many figures including Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday and Luther Vandross, and how their experiences are refracted through the prisms of writing, music and cinema. But Colour Me English always circles back to questions of identity and belonging, to the nature of tribal belonging and of its reverse, exclusion.
In 1771, Mr Earnshaw returns to Yorkshire from Liverpool with a bundle in his arms. As dark almost as if it came from the devil, this strange apparition is taken into the bosom of his family and becomes the starting point of Emily Bronts Wuthering Heights.Almost two-hundred years later, Monica Johnson, a young woman growing up in a conservative family in the north of England, leaves her place at Oxford to marry a man from the Caribbean against her parents' wishes and then struggles to bring up their children as a single mother in Leeds.While Ben is popular, does well at school and embraces the popular culture of the day, Tommy is bullied and remains an outcast, as stigmatised by the origins of his parentage as Healthcliff was. Vulnerable and alone, Tommy disappears one day, demolishing the precarious family bond with an intensity matched only by Heathcliff's arrival into the Earnshaw clan.In the tradition of Jean Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea and J M Coetzees Foe, The Lost Child boldly re-imagines the origins of Heathcliff, and the manner in which he emerged from Emily Bronts imagination, to deftly spin tales of disparate lives bound by the past and struggling to liberate themselves from it into a haunting novel about migration, social exclusion and the difficulties of family.
Social worker Keith, separated from his wife and their teenage son, is floundering in a world of fraught sexual politics, parental responsibilities and class expectations. He takes refuge from his domestic problems in a long-cherished writing project and a renewed relationship with his aging father, who came to Britain as part of the windrush generation, but for the first time in his life he begins to feel extremely vulnerable as a black man in English society. Meanwhile Annabelle watches the man she married against the wishes of her parents struggle with his grip on reality. Despite their three year estrangement, she realises that they have no choice but to close ranks if they are to protect their son from a world of street gangs and violence.
'A brilliant hybrid of reportage, fiction, and historical fact that tells the stories of three black men whose tragic lives speak resoundingly to the place and role of the foreigner in English society' Observer Francis Barber, 'given' to the great eighteenth-century writer Samuel Johnson, afforded an unusual depth of freedom, which, after Johnson's death, would help hasten his wretched demise.... Randolph Turpin, Britain's first black world champion boxer, who made history in 1951 by defeating Sugar Ray Robinson, and who ended his life in debt and despair... David Oluwale, a Nigerian stowaway who arrived in Leeds in 1949, the events of whose life and death would question the reality of English justice, and serve as a wake-up call for the entire nation. Each of these men's stories is told in a different, perfectly realized voice. Each illuminates the complexity and drama that lie behind the tragedy of their lives. And each explores the themes at the heart of Caryl Phillips' work - belonging, identity, and race.
The Nature of Blood is an unforgettable novel about loss and persecution, about courage and betrayal, and about the terrible pain yet absoulte necessity of human memory. A young Jewish woman growing up in Germany in the middle of the twentieth century and an African general hired by the Doge to command his armies in sixteenth century Venice are bound by personal crisis and momentous social conflict. What emerges is Europe's age-old obsession with race, with sameness and difference, with blood.
Cambridge is a powerful and haunting novel set in that uneasy time between the abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of the slaves. It is the story of Emily Cartwright, a young woman sent from England to visit her father's West Indian plantation, and Cambridge, a plantation slave, educated and Christianised by his first master in England and now struggling to maintain his dignity.
'The funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew.' This is how W.C. Fields described Bert Williams, the highest-paid entertainer in America in his heyday and someone who counted the King of England and Buster Keaton among his fans. Born in the Bahamas, he moved to California with his family. Too poor to attend Stanford University, he took to life on the stage with his friend George Walker. Together they played lumber camps and mining towns until they eventually made the agonising decision to 'play the coon'. Off-stage, Williams was a tall, light-skinned man with marked poise and dignity; on-stage he now became a shuffling, inept 'nigger' who wore blackface make-up. As the new century dawned they were headlining on Broadway. But the mask was beginning to overwhelm Williams and he sank into bouts of melancholia and heavy drinking, unable to escape the blackface his public demanded.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction Caryl Phillips' ambitious and powerful novel spans two hundred and fifty years of the African diaspora. It tracks two brothers and a sister on their separate journeys through different epochs and continents: one as a missionary to Liberia in the 1830s, one a pioneer on a wagon trail to the American West later that century, and one a GI posted to a Yorkshire village in the Second World War. 'Epic and frequently astonishing' The Times 'Its resonance continues to deepen' New York Times
Caryl Phillips's first novel tells the story of Leila, a nineteen-year-old woman living on a small Caribbean island in the 1950s. Unsatisfied with life on the island, Leila decides to leave her friends and follow her mother overseas, taking her restless husband Michael and her young son with her. Her subsequent passage to England brings her face to face with the consequences of the decisions she has made to determine her life on her own terms.
The English village is a place where people come to lick their wounds. Dorothy has walked away from a bad thirty-year marriage, an affair gone sour and a dangerous obsession. Between her visits to the doctor and the music lessons she gives to bored teenagers, she is trying to rebuild a life. It's not immediately clear why her neighbour, Solomon, is living in the village, but his African origin suggests a complex history that is at odds with his dull routine of washing the car and making short trips to the supermarket. Though all he has in common with the English is a shared language, it soon becomes clear that Solomon hopes that his new country will provide him with a safe haven. Gradually they establish a form of comfort in each other's presence that alleviates the isolation they both feel.
A New World Order ranges widely across the Atlantic World that Caryl Phillips has charted in his award winning novels and non-fiction. He argues that there is a new world order of cultural plurality, one which is being promoted by the increasingly central role of the migrant and the refugee in the modern world. He goes on to reflect on the work of such seminal figures as Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer, Steven Spielberg, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Marvin Gaye. Phillips writes about the moment when St. Kitts, the island of his birth, became independent and talks about the responsibility of being a writer born into a postcolonial world who lives on both sides of the Atlantic. He turns the spotlight on Britain, speculating about his parents migration in the late fifties, the continued legacy of racism, his own helpless loyalty to Leeds United, and his anxieties at feeling as though he is both of, and not of, Britain.