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The Atlantic Soundby Caryl Phillips
Synopses & Reviews
Liverpool, England; Accra, Ghana; Charleston, South Carolina. These were the points of the triangle forming the major route of the transatlantic slave trade. And these are the cities that acclaimed author Caryl Phillips explores--physically, historically, psychologically--in this wide-ranging meditation on the legacy of slavery and the impact of the African diaspora on the life of a place and its people.
In a brilliantly layered narrative, Phillips combines his own observations with the stories of figures from the past. The experiences of an African trader in nineteenth-century Liverpool are contrasted with Phillips's experience of the city, where, as a Carib-bean black, he is scorned by the city's "native" blacks. His interactions with American Pan-Africanists coming "home" to Ghana (and with those Ghanaians for whom leaving seems the best hope) are paired with the account of a British-trained African minister in eighteenth-century Accra who turned a blind eye to the slave trade flourishing around him. The story of a white judge who disrupted "the natural order" in Charleston by integrating the Democratic primary in 1947 is set against Phillips's search for remnants of the "pest houses" where slaves were "seasoned" be-fore being sold.
Phillips weaves these narrative threads together with acute insight and a novelist's grasp of time, place and character. The result is a provocative and unexpected book, at once historically illuminating and profoundly affecting.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this fascinating inquiry into the African Diaspora, Caryl Phillips embarks on a soul-wrenching journey to the three major ports of the transatlantic slave trade.
Juxtaposing stories of the past with his own present-day experiences, Phillips combines his remarkable skills as a travel essayist with an astute understanding of history. From an West African businessman's interactions with white Methodists in nineteenth-century Liverpool to an eighteenth-century African minister's complicity in the selling of slaves to a fearless white judge's crusade for racial justice in 1940s Charleston, South Carolina, Phillips reveals the global the impact of being uprooted from one's home through resonant, powerful narratives.
"A lyrical survey that…elicit s] and illuminat es] the patterns and prejudices of race."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Impressive, poignant…. A travel book crafted with the touch of a skilled novelist."
--Time Out New York
"A trenchant…book that sounds the depth of slavery's legacy."
--San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts, West Indies; his family emigrated to England that same year, and he was brought up in Leeds and educated at Oxford. Phillips has written numerous scripts for film, theater, radio and television. He is the author of one previous book of nonfiction, The European Tribe, and six novels, including Cambridge, Crossing the River and The Nature of Blood. He has received numerous awards--the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize among them. He lives in New York City.
Caryl Phillips's The Final Passage, A State of Independence, The European Tribe, Higher Ground, Cambridge, Crossing the River and The Nature of Blood are available in Vintage paperback.
From the Hardcover edition.
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » General