Caryl Phillips - Official Web Site
news & appearances


June 2018

Commonwealth Essays and Studies Issue Devoted to Caryl Phillips

Special issue of Commonwealth Essays and Studies devoted to Caryl Phillips (Volume 40, Number 1, Autumn 2017), editor: Christine Lorre-Johnston. Table of contents and purchase information available at:

April 2018

Upcoming Conference on Jean Rhys rhys_conference
UK Edition of New Book Forthcoming

The UK edition of Phillips's latest novel, A View of the Empire at Sunset, will be released by Random House/Vintage on June 21st. To order it online, visit the "Where to buy" page.

February 2018


"An Interview with Caryl Phillips." Glynis Charlton interviews Caryl Phillips for The Bronte Society Gazette (Issue 74, January 2018). Phillips discusses his fascination with Emily Bronte and his contribution to the special exhibition, "Bronte 200: Making Thunder Roar." For more information, visit:

January 2018

Upcoming Symposium on the Writings of Caryl Phillips

March 10th: University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.


November 2017

New Book Forthcoming

Phillips's latest novel, A View of the Empire at Sunset, will be published in the USA by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux on May 22nd, 2018, and by Random House/Vintage in the UK on June 21st.

From Macmillan, November 2017

"Award-winning author Caryl Phillips presents a biographical novel of the life of Jean Rhys, the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, which she wrote as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Caryl Phillips’s A View of the Empire at Sunset is the sweeping story of the life of the woman who became known to the world as Jean Rhys. Born Ella Gwendolyn Rees Williams in Dominica at the height of the British Empire, Rhys lived in the Caribbean for only sixteen years before going to England. A View of the Empire at Sunset is a look into her tempestuous and unsatisfactory life in Edwardian England, 1920s Paris, and then again in London. Her dream had always been to one day return home to Dominica. In 1936, a forty-five-year-old Rhys was finally able to make the journey back to the Caribbean. Six weeks later, she boarded a ship for England, filled with hostility for her home, never to return. Phillips’s gripping new novel is equally a story about the beginning of the end of a system that had sustained Britain for two centuries but that wreaked havoc on the lives of all who lived in the shadow of the empire: both men and women, colonizer and colonized.

A true literary feat, A View of the Empire at Sunset uncovers the mysteries of the past to illuminate the predicaments of the present, getting at the heart of alienation, exile, and family by offering a look into the life of one of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century and retelling a profound story that is singularly its own."

November 2017

Book Review

"The Case of Isabel Archer". Caryl Phillips reviews John Banville's latest novel, Mrs. Osmond (Knopf, 369 pp., $27.95), for The New York Review of Books (Volume 64, Number 18, November 23, 2017). Read the full review at:

September 2017

Ariel Journal Issue Devoted to Caryl Phillips

Special issue of ariel: a Review of International English Literature (Volume 48, Number 3-4, July-October 2017), guest editor Benedicte Ledent. Available at:

August 2017

Radio Play

BBC Radio 4 Extra - The Wasted Years

"About to leave school, 16-year-old Solly is bright but going through a bad patch. His schoolwork's deteriorated, his conduct is becoming rebellious - or that's what Mr Teale thinks.

But Solly is the only black face in the class and that makes all the difference...

Caryl Phillips' first radio play won a Giles Cooper Award in the same year of broadcast."

Producer: Vanessa Whitburn

Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1984, the play will be will be available online until September 25th. Listen at

August 2017

Upcoming Reading

Caryl Phillips will be reading at UMass Amherst, in tribute to Professor Stephen Clingman.

Clingman ISI

July 2017

New Book on Crossing the River

Caryl Phillips: Crossing the River, by Francoise Clary (Atlande, France), now available for purchase at:

July 2017

Cycnos Journal Issue Devoted to Crossing the River

'Traversee D'Une Oeuvre: Crossing the River de Caryl Phillips', edited by Vanessa Guignery and Christian Gutleben, Cycnos, Volume 32, Number 1, (L'Harmattan, France), now available for purchase at:

May 2017

Upcoming Conference on Crossing the River

May 23-24: Caen, France.

Caen Caen2

February 2017


"The nature of empathy: An interview with Caryl Phillips." Stephen Clingman interviews Caryl Phillips about his latest novel, The Lost Child. Read the full interview in The Journal of Postcolonial Writing.

December 2016

Radio play

Somewhere in England: Written and dramatised from his own novel, Crossing the River, by Caryl Phillips.

Somewhere in England is a story of love and race set in Yorkshire during the Second World War. When the US Army arrived in Britain during World War Two, it came in still-segregated units. When a platoon of black GIs sets up camp near a quiet Yorkshire village, there are far-reaching consequences both for rebellious GI Travis Johnson and local shopkeeper, Joyce.

Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday, December 3rd, @ 14:30. Programme available online shortly after broadcast:



Crossing the River has been translated into Korean (Singongsa).

December 2015

Upcoming Conference on David Oluwale Oluwale Now

November 2015


Hear a podcast of Caryl Phillips's roundtable with Zadie Smith and Aleksandar Hemon on CBC Radio One's "Writers and Company," hosted by Eleanor Wachtel for a special 25th Anniversary event at Toronto's International Festival of Authors — Listen Now

October 2015

US Paperback edition of The Lost Child forthcoming

The US paperback edition of Phillips's latest novel, The Lost Child, will be released by Picador in June 2016. To pre-order it online, visit the "Where to buy" page.

June 2015


Orlando Verde interviews Caryl Phillips for the Belgian journal Rekto Verso. Read the full interview online at

UK Paperback edition of The Lost Child forthcoming

The UK paperback edition of Phillips's latest novel, The Lost Child, will be released by OneWorld Publications in September. To order it online, visit the "Where to buy" page.

May 2015


"Finding The Lost Child." Caryl Phillips writes about the origins of his new novel, The Lost Child. Read the full essay at

April 2015


The Shelter has been translated into Italian (Italy: Liguori Editore), with translation and introduction by Bruna Mancini, and afterword by Carlo Fanelli. You can purchase the e-book online at; the print book will be available soon.

February 2015

New book forthcoming

Phillips's latest novel, The Lost Child, will be published in the USA by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux on March 10th, 2015, and by Oneworld in the UK on April 2nd.

From Oneworld, April 2015

"One of our most acclaimed novelists adopts two disparate narrative voices and juxtaposes their stories to devastating effect in this damning critique of 1960s Britain.

"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’, the adoption of this strange apparition becomes the starting point of Emily Brontë’s classic novel 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 struggles to bring up their children as a single mother in Leeds.

"While Ben is popular and does well at school, Tommy is bullied and remains an outcast, as stigmatised by the origins of his parentage as Healthcliff was. Vulnerable and alone, when Tommy disappears, the precarious family bond is demolished with an intensity matched only by Heathcliff’s arrival into the Earnshaw clan.

"In the tradition of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and J M Coetzee’s Foe, Phillips boldly re-imagines the origins of Heathcliff and the manner in which he emerged from Emily Brontë’s imagination in a haunting new novel about migration, social exclusion and the difficulties of family."

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 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

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


"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

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:

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

October 2012

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


"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:

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


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 on May 1, 2012.

A Room for London

February 2012


"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

September 2011

Radio Broadcast

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

Available online at 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


"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.


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

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

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

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

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


"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.


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


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.