By Caryl Phillips
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400079841, 256pp.)
Publication Date: November 11, 2008
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From an acclaimed, award-winning novelist comes this brilliant hybrid of reportage, fiction, and historical fact: the stories of three black men whose tragic lives speak resoundingly to the problem of race in British society.
With his characteristic grace and forceful prose, Phillips describes the lives of three very different men: Francis Barber, “given” to the 18th-century writer Samuel Johnson, whose friendship with Johnson led to his wretched demise; Randolph Turpin, a boxing champion who ended his life in debt and decrepitude; and David Oluwale, a Nigerian stowaway who arrived in Leeds in 1949 and whose death at the hands of police twenty years later was a wake up call for the entire nation. As Phillips weaves together these three stories, he illuminates the complexities of race relations and social constraints with devastating results.
Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts, West Indies. Brought up in England, he has written for television, radio, theater, and film. He is the author of four books of nonfiction and seven novels. His most recent book, Dancing in the Dark, won the 2006 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and his previous novel, A Distant Shore, won the 2004 Commonwealth Prize. His other awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Phillips lives in New York.
“[A] searching meditation on outsiders in England. . . . Foreigners is written, like all Phillips' books, in a style of even, sorrowful precision that enrages as it informs.” —Pico Iyer, Time“Heartbreaking. . . . For his artistic vision and moral courage, we owe Phillips a deep debt of gratitude.” —The Boston Globe“Inspired. . . . Foreigners makes [an] important contribution through the lens of personal history and narrative . . . Disconcertingly resonant.” —The Guardian (London)