Caryl Phillips - Official Web Site
news & appearances

announcements

October 2014

A Bend in the River, a collaboration between Caryl Phillips and photographer Johnny Pitts

"Author Caryl Phillips and and photographer Johnny Pitts take a digital journey down the River Thames, travelling eastwards from Waterloo and A Room for London to Tilbury. This is a slideshow of that journey. It has a soundtrack which includes excerpts from Caryl Phillips' essay and Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and field recordings gathered from the 30-mile stretch of the Thames."

Visit artangel.org.uk to see the slideshow with Phillips' narration.


August 2014

Radio Broadcast

BBC Radio 4 Extra - "James Baldwin 90th Anniversary: No Complaints."

In honor of what would have been James Baldwin's 90th birthday, Caryl Phillips revisits his 1984 interview with Baldwin, and introduces the broadcast of his own 2004 Radio 4 play: "A Kind of Home - James Baldwin in Paris."

The programme will be broadcast on August 2nd and 3rd, and will be available online until August 10th. Listen to a preview at bbc.co.uk.


April 2014

Radio Broadcast

BBC Radio 4 - "The Echo Chamber: Derek Walcott." Caryl Phillips is featured in a radio documentary on Derek Walcott. Listen to the full programme until April 14th at bbc.co.uk.


Essay

"75 at 75: Caryl Phillips on Derek Walcott." Caryl Phillips responds to a reading by Derek Walcott as part of the 92nd St Y's project, "Poetry Center Online: Celebrating 75 Years of the Unterberg Poetry Center". Read the full essay and hear Walcott's 1996 reading at 92yondemand.org.

February 2013

Caryl Phillips to receive Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence

Caryl Phillips has been selected to receive the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence, in the category of Arts and Letters. One of three 2013 laureates, he will accept the honors at a ceremony in April in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. For more information, see: cuopm.com.


January 2013

Review:South Africa: Life with Father

Caryl Phillips reviews Zakes Mda's Sometimes There is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider, for The New York Review of Books. The full review is available online to the magazine's subscribers at nybooks.com.


October 2012

Crossing the River shortlisted for the Best of the Best of the James Tait Black Prize

From bbc.co.uk:

"Angela Carter, Graham Greene, James Kelman, Cormac McCarthy, Muriel Spark and Caryl Phillips are in the running for the James Tait Black accolade. The Best of the Best of the James Tait Black Prize will honour the best loved novel to have won the award since it was created in 1919. The winning book will be announced in December. The award has been created to celebrate the 250th anniversary of English literature study at the University of Edinburgh. The shortlist was selected by academics and students of literature at the university, and the winner will be chosen by a judging panel including broadcaster Kirsty Wark and award-winning author and writer in residence at the university, Alan Warner."


Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh

Caryl Phillips will be awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Edinburgh on November 27th, 2012: ed.ac.uk.


Paperback edition of Color Me English forthcoming

The paperback edition of Phillips's latest book, Color Me English, will be released by The New Press in January 2013. To order it online, visit the the "Where to buy" page.


March 2012

Residency

Caryl Phillips will take up residency at A Room for London, a one-bedroom installation on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, from April 21-April 24, as part of Artangel's "Words and Writing: A London Address." His reading will be available online at aroomforlondon.co.uk on May 1, 2012.

A Room for London

February 2012

Interview

"The Narrative Is Not Written in Stone." Bastian Balthazar Becker interviews Caryl Phillips about his latest book, Color Me English. Read the full interview in SX Salon: A Small Axe Literary Platform.

January 2012

New collection of essays about the work of Caryl Phillips forthcoming

Writing in the Key of Life, ed. Benedicte Ledent and Daria Tunca. Rodopi, 2012.

From Rodopi, January 2012

"Writing in the Key of Life is the first critical collection devoted to the British-Caribbean author Caryl Phillips, a major voice in contemporary anglophone literatures. Phillips’s impressive body of fiction, drama, and non-fiction has garnered wide praise for its formal inventiveness and its incisive social criticism as well as its unusually sensitive understanding of the human condition.

"The twenty-six contributions offered here, including two by Phillips himself, address the fundamental issues that have preoccupied the writer in his now three-decades-long career – the enduring legacy of history, the intricate workings of identity, and the pervasive role of race, class, and gender in societies worldwide. Most of Phillips’s writing is covered here, in essays that approach it from various thematic and interpretative angles. These include the interplay of fact and fiction, Phillips’s sometimes ambiguous literary affiliations, his long-standing interest in the black and Jewish diasporas, his repeated exploration of Britain and its ‘Others’, and his recurrent use of motifs such as masking and concealment.

"Writing in the Key of Life testifies to the vitality of Phillipsian scholarship and confirms the significance of an artist whose concerns, at once universal and topical, find particular resonance with the state of the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century."

Essay included in new anthology

The essay "Rude Am I in My Speech" has been included in The Best American Essays of 2011 (Houghton Mifflin). The essay is also in Phillips's 2011 volume, Color Me English.

October 2011

Radio play

A new radio play, Dinner in the Village, based on the friendship between CLR James and his wife Constance Webb, and Richard Wright and his wife Ellen Wright, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday October 4th. It should be available online at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes.

September 2011

Radio Broadcast

Caryl Phillips appears on BBC Radio 4: Book of the Week--The 9/11 Letters

Available online at bbc.co.uk for one week, beginning on Monday, September 5th.

"Five internationally acclaimed writers consider the impact of the momentous events of September 11th 2001. Ten years on, these authors use imaginative letters to reflect on the consequences for Britain, America and the world.

"The first letter is from novelist and essayist Caryl Phillips, who was born in St Kitts, grew up in Leeds and is now Professor of English at Yale University. In his letter, Phillips imagines that his young nephew might have to answer a history exam question about how the crisis of September 11th, 2001 determined American foreign and domestic policy. He gives an eye-witness account of the day and those following, reflecting how the events changed him, and his identity as a Resident Alien, someone who can live and work in the United States, but is not an American citizen."

Producer: Julian May.


August 2011

Colour Me English now available in the U.S. and U.K.

For details on where to purchase, visit the home page.

From Harvill Secker, Summer 2011

"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 work of figures, amongst many others, 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, and of its reverse, exclusion."


July 2011

Interview

"Discomfort zone: Author Caryl Phillips explores issues of multiculturalism." Elizabeth Floyd Mair interviews Caryl Phillips about his new book, Color Me English. Read the full interview in The Times Union.

Translation

Crossing the River has been translated into Portuguese (Rio de Janeiro: Record). You can order it online via skoob.com.br and travessa.com.br.


November 2010

Color Me English publication date announced

Phillips's latest book, Color Me English, will be published in the U.S. by The New Press in July 2011, and by Harvill Secker in the U.K. in August.


In the Falling Snow released on audio in the U.S.

In the Falling Snow has been released as an audiobook in the U.S. by Recorded Books in an unabridged edition narrated by Ben Onwukwe. You can order it online via amazon.com.


January 2010

Migrant Journeys: A Conversation with Caryl Phillips, with Elvira Pulitano

This is a preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in Atlantic Studies © 2009 Copyright Taylor & Francis; Atlantic Studies is available online.

June 2009

Cambridge released on audio in UK

As of 9 May, Cambridge has been released as an audiobook in the UK by Clipper Audio in an unabridged edition narrated by Adjoa Andoh. You can order it online via the "Where to buy" page.

April 2009

New collection of interviews

Conversations with Caryl Phillips, a new collection of nineteen interviews conducted over more than two decades on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Caribbean, will be published in May. The collection has been edited by Renee T. Schatteman, and is published by University Press of Mississippi.

Phillips to deliver Northcliffe Lectures in 2010

Caryl Phillips will be delivering the Northcliffe Lectures at University College, London in spring 2010.

January 2009

In the Falling Snow publication date announced

Phillips's latest novel, In the Falling Snow, will be published in the UK by Harvill Secker in May 2009, and by Alfred A. Knopf in the USA in September.


October 2008

Teaching at Oxford

During May 2009 Caryl Phillips will be teaching at Oxford University. He will be giving a series of readings and seminars at The Queen's College, Wolfson College, and at the University Department of English.

Oxford University

May 2008

Caryl Phillips with Professor Stephen Clingman - Venice, Italy 2008

With Professor Stephen Clingman, March 29th 2008, Venice, Italy.

March 2008

Radio play

A new radio play, A Long Way From Home, based on the last few years of the life of Marvin Gaye, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday March 30th. It should be available online at www.bbc.co.uk/radio3.

October 2007

Foreigners publication October 26

Read the official press release.

Reissues forthcoming in 2008 CAMBRIDGE   THE NATURE OF BLOOD

August 2007

Rough Crossings debuts in Birmingham; publication to follow

You can now download an electronic version of the programme (PDF) for Rough Crossings, the Simon Schama play adapted to stage by Caryl Phillips. The play will debut 14 September at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Oberon Books will be publishing Rough Crossings, also in September, in the UK.

July 2007

Headlong Theatre unites Simon Schama and Caryl Phillips for a landmark theatrical event ROUGH CROSSINGS by Simon Schama, adapted to stage by Caryl Phillips.
  • Rough Crossings
  • Written by Simon Schama
  • Adapted for the stage by Caryl Phillips
  • DIRECTOR, Rupert Goold
  • ADAPTED BY Caryl Phillips
  • DESIGNER, Laura Hopkins
  • LIGHTING DESIGNER, Paul Pyant

1789. As the American War of Independence reaches its climax, the freed plantation slave Thomas Peters and John Clarkson of the British navy embark upon a journey which will redefine racial politics and change attitudes towards slavery forever...

Rough Crossings tells the heroic story of the resettlement of a group of former slaves in West Africa and of the bruising relationship between Peters and Clarkson, divided by the barriers of race, but united in their ambitions of equality. Moving from the meeting houses of London to the inhospitable terrain of Sierra Leone, Rough Crossings is a vibrantly theatrical exploration of racial identity, of home, of what it means to be free.

Performance Schedule

  • w/c 10th September - Birmingham Rep (first preview Friday 14th, local press Tuesday 18th, last performance Sat 22nd)
  • w/c 24th September - Lyric Hammersmith (first preview Tuesday 25th, national press Friday 28th, last performance Sat 13th)
  • w/c 15th October - Liverpool Everyman (first show Tuesday 16th, last performance Sat 27th)
  • w/c 5th November - West Yorkshire Playhouse (first show Tuesday 6th, final performance 24th November)

June 2007

Interview

"Not afraid of ambiguity," an interview with Caryl Phillips by Axel Stähler, Bonn/Münster. Read the full interview [PDF].

December 2006

New book forthcoming

Caryl's new book, Foreigners, will be published in the USA and Britain in Fall 2007.

FOREIGNERS, THREE ENLGISH LIVES - Fall 2007 FOREIGNERS, US Edition

From Knopf, Fall 2007

"From 'one of the literary giants of our times' (The New York Times)—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.

"Francis Barber, 'given' to the great l8th 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 called into question the reality of English justice, and whose death at the hands of police in 1969 served 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 simple notions of haplessness that have been used to explain the tragedy of their lives. And each explores, in entirely new ways, the themes—at once timeless and urgent—that have been at the heart of all of Caryl Phillips' work: belonging, identity, and race.

"Foreigners is among his most powerful, empathic, and profoundly affecting books."

November 2006

Podcast

Hear a podcast of Caryl's appearance with Glyn Maxwell at Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, NM (11 November 2006) — Listen Now

May 16, 2006

Three titles to be reissued

Three novels—Dancing in the Dark, Crossing the River, and Higher Ground—will be reissued in paperback this September by Vintage UK.

DANCING IN THE DARK - Vintage UK, 2006   CROSSING THE RIVER - Vintage UK, 2006   HIGHER GROUND - Vintage UK, 2006

September, 2005

Dancing in the Dark DANCING IN THE DARK

A searing new novel that reimagines the remarkable, tragic, little-known life of Bert Williams (1874—1922), the first black entertainer in the United States to reach the highest levels of fame and fortune. Dancing in the Dark was published in September 2005 by Secker and Warburg in the UK and by Alfred A. Knopf in the USA. Paperback editions will be published by Vintage in September 2006 in the United States and October 2006 in the UK.


August 4, 2005

Article published
  • The Colour of Funny, an article about the novel Dancing in the Dark was published by The Independent (UK).

upcoming readings

Click here for a full listing of scheduled readings and appearances.