A Distant Shore (Hardcover)
Knopf, 9781400041091, 288pp.
Publication Date: October 14, 2003
From Caryl Phillips—acclaimed author of The Nature of Blood and The Atlantic Sound—a masterful new novel set in contemporary England, about an African man and an English woman whose hidden lives, and worlds, are revealed in their fragile, fateful connection.
Dorothy and Solomon live in a new housing estate on the outskirts of an English village. She’s recently bought her bungalow; he’s recently become the night watchman. He is black, an immigrant. She is white, a recently retired music teacher. They are both solitary, reticent outsiders. When they move tenuously toward each other and their paths briefly cross, neither of them can know that it will be the last true human contact either will have.
The novel unfolds into the past to show us how Solomon and Dorothy have arrived at this moment: Solomon, a former soldier, escaping the horrors of a war-ravaged African country, entering England illegally, a non-man with no resources but his own waning strength, and no comprehension of the society that both hates and harbors him; Dorothy, the product of a troubled childhood and a messy divorce, fleeing the repercussions of a desperate obsession. In scene after resonant scene, we watch as Solomon and Dorothy come to live inside themselves, closing off from a world that has changed—and changed them—beyond recognition.
In their powerfully compelling stories, Caryl Phillips has created a brilliant and moving portrait of modern human displacement: from home, from heart, and from self.
Praise For A Distant Shore…
“Provocative. . . . His novels have a way of . . . staying with you long after you’ve closed the book.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Rich and deeply affecting. . . . With the elegance and maturity of a prize-winning author . . . Phillips lives, breathes, and masterfully teases into prose the singular dilemma of the outsider.” –The Boston Globe
“A powerful contemporary fable about cultural clashes and individual yearnings . . . told with a cool restraint.” –The Baltimore Sun
“Compellingly readable. . . . Impossible to pull away from. . . . [Phillips] has demonstrated a remarkably fluent ability to inhabit characters whose perspectives on life differ radically from his.” –Los Angeles Times
“Astonishing. . . . Chilling. . . . A Distant Shore marks new heights in this author’s narrative accomplishments.” –The Miami Herald
“Suspenseful, atmospheric, adventurous.” –The Independent
“A devastatingly sad, powerful work of displacement, loneliness and racism.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“A page-savourer. . . . The plot is teased out with all the supple control of a superb craftsman in his prime. . . . A remarkable and penetrating novel.” –The Times (London)
“Graceful and dizzying. . . . A novel of failed grasps at redemption and horrors that reduce characters to madness, murder, and incoherent grief.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“A distillation of everything that makes Phillips’ work so impressive: lucid, deceptively simple prose combined with huge ideas and complex emotion. . . . Arguably his most accomplished work to date.” –Time Out (London)
“Intriguing. . . . Transcend[s] limitations of time and place. . . . [Phillips’] use of descriptive detail and subtle symbolism is achingly on point.” –Black Issues Book Review
“Just the sort of writing that reminds us how vital fiction can be.” –The Herald (Glasgow)
“Hums with ambition. . . . You can’t help but admire Phillips’ desire to explore . . . one of the great unexamined tragedies of our time.” –The Guardian