In This Chapter

Caryl Phillips

The Dignity of the Examined Life

Authored by: Bénédicte Ledent

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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It is notably difficult to place Caryl Phillips as a writer. Should he be regarded as exclusively Caribbean because of his birth in St Kitts, or as British, Black British, diasporic African or even African American by virtue of his cosmopolitan life? To some extent, all these labels could be valid, as Phillips himself suggests in the multi-geographical structure of his collection of essays A New World Order (2001) and in the themes developed in his many books, whether drama, fiction or non-fiction. Clearly, his work testifies to a complex, multifaceted identity – which in a sense is typically Caribbean – and addresses a wide variety of subjects. Nevertheless, it also displays a great coherence and might very well be seen as a whole. Phillips himself has said that his books ‘all seem to be the same book, part of a continuum’ (Morrison 2003: n.p.).

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