Color Me English: Migration and Belonging Before and After 9/11

Color Me English: Migration and Belonging Before and After 9/11

by Caryl Phillips
     
 

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Born in St. Kitts and brought up in the UK, bestselling author Caryl Phillips has written about and explored the experience of migration for more than thirty years through his spellbinding and award-winning novels, plays, and essays.

Now, in a magnificent and beautifully written new book, Phillips reflects on the shifting notions of race, culture, and belonging… See more details below

Overview

Born in St. Kitts and brought up in the UK, bestselling author Caryl Phillips has written about and explored the experience of migration for more than thirty years through his spellbinding and award-winning novels, plays, and essays.

Now, in a magnificent and beautifully written new book, Phillips reflects on the shifting notions of race, culture, and belonging before and after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Color Me English opens with an inspired story from his boyhood, a poignant account of a shared sense of isolation he felt with the first Muslim boy who joined his school. Phillips then turns to his years living and teaching in the United States, including a moving account of the day the twin towers fell. We follow him across Europe and through Africa while he grapples with making sense of colonial histories and contemporary migrations—engaging with legendary African, African American, and international writers from James Baldwin and Richard Wright to Chinua Achebe and Ha Jin who have aspired to see themselves and their own societies more clearly.

A truly transnational reflection on race and culture in a post-9/11 world, Color Me English is a stunning collection of writing that is at once timeless and urgent.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In these nearly 40 essays on migration, literature, and politics, novelist Phillips (A Distant Shore) revisits his youth in Leeds, recalls visits with other writers (e.g., Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin), recollects travels in disparate lands (Israel, France, Sierra Leone, Belgium), and meditates on the perspectives of the displaced—exiles, refugees, immigrants. He reassesses writers as diverse as Lafcadio Hearn, Claude McKay, and Shusaku Endo, along with a number of British writers. While most essays are compelling, two groupings stand out: "Beginners" for what it shares about Phillips's writing process, and "Homeland Security," the book's most memorable section, which moves from a personal and very moving account of September 11 to a blistering account of the "discriminatory legislation enacted in wake" and the "changes in the national mood" that threaten American pluralism. All of the essays, regardless of topic, reflect upon Phillips's "triple heritage"—"British, African diasporan, Caribbean"—and brim with curiosity and cosmopolitanism. (June)
Kirkus Reviews

A collection of essays on the themes of race, the African diaspora, otherness and identity, from a Caribbean-born, British-raised, and United States–based writer with a sharp eye for the tensions of modern society.

In what could be seen as a sequel to A New World Order: Essays (2001), Phillips, who is better known as a novelist (In the Falling Snow, 2009, etc.), again explores issues of migration and shares his insights into writers and their role in shaping their world. Written over nearly two decades and seemingly for a variety of publications, these highly personal musings open with Phillips's childhood in Leeds, where for a time he was the only black child in his school. For a Muslim newcomer, Ali, the difference was culture and religion. Though Phillips found he was "being coloured English," he saw that Ali remained an outsider. "Distant Shores" contains six pieces on his perceptions and experiences in both Europe and Africa. Europe, he writes, is no longer white and no longer Judeo-Christian, and it never will be again. However, with the help of literature as a bulwark against intolerance, societies can make the necessary transition and transform themselves. The longest section, titled "Outside In," looks at writers in exile—e.g., James Baldwin in France, Ha Jin in the United States and Chinua Achebe in Canada. The four essays in "Homeland Security," written between 2001 and 2006, show Phillips' disappointment over the failure of America to live up to its image as a land of freedom and equality, but also his hope that storytelling will restore the spirit of the country. Profiles, movie and book reviews and autobiographical and journalistic sketches complete the collection.

Although linked by the author's sense of history and his awareness of being an outsider, these pieces seem uncomfortable together, as though forced to migrate from earlier settings to this new home.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595586902
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
07/19/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
0 MB

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