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Caryl Phillips

(b. 1958)


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(1958– ),

novelist and playwright, born in St Kitts, West Indies, but resident in England since infancy. Early plays include Strange Fruit (1980) and The Shelter (1983). His first novel, The Final Passage (1985), was followed by A State of Independence (1986), in which the protagonist returns to his West Indian home with a severe sense of dislocation, and Higher Ground (1989). Cambridge (1991) is a tour de force of historical fiction set in the West Indies just after the abolition of the slave trade: much of the novel is narrated by English visitor Emily Cartwright, who is shocked by the brutal world she enters; but we also hear other voices, including that of Cambridge himself, an educated plantation slave. Crossing the River (1994) is a many‐layered polyphonic narration, linking past and present, Africa and England, which celebrates the difficulties and triumph of a mixed‐race love affair during the Second World War. A Distant Shore (2003) is a tragic story of loneliness, immigration, and racism in contemporary Britain. Non‐fiction works include two collections of essays, The European Tribe (1987) and A New World Order (2001); he also edited Extravagant Strangers: A Literature of Belonging (1997), a survey of non‐British‐born writers and their invigorating contribution to Britain's literary tradition.

Subjects: Literature.


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