Foreigners: Book summary and reviews of Foreigners by Caryl Phillips

Foreigners

by Caryl Phillips

Foreigners by Caryl Phillips X
Foreigners by Caryl Phillips
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2007
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A hybrid of reportage, fiction, and historical fact that tells the stories of three black men whose lives speak resoundingly to the place and role of the foreigner in English society.

Francis Barber, “given” to the great eighteenth-century writer Samuel Johnson, more companion than servant, afforded an unusual depth of freedom that, after Johnson’s death, hastened his wretched demise . . . Randolph Turpin, who made history in 1951 by defeating Sugar Ray Robinson, becoming Britain’s first black world-champion boxer, a top-class fighter for twelve years whose life ended in debt and despair . . . David Oluwale, a Nigerian stowaway who arrived in Leeds in 1949, the events of whose life called into question the reality of English justice, and whose death at the hands of police in 1969 served as a wake-up call for the entire nation.

Each of these men’s stories is rendered in a different, perfectly realized voice. Each illuminates the complexity and drama that lie behind the simple notions of haplessness that have been used to explain the tragedy of these lives. And each explores, in entirely new ways, the themes—at once timeless and urgent—that have been at the heart of all of Caryl Phillips’s remarkable work: belonging, identity, and race.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Along with interest and admiration, I read parts of Caryl Phillips's new book, Foreigners, with, I confess, a mixture of bemused perplexity and thwarted expectations, wondering, what is this guy up to here? The rather stodgy historical passages coexist somewhat uneasily with the more fluid and lyrical fictionalized accounts." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. As each elegantly restrained yet finely detailed tragic tale portrays a cruelly and unjustly condemned man and reveals hidden facets of English history, Phillips' brilliantly realized and indelible novel of remembrance poses an unspoken yet inevitable question, have things changed for "foreigners" of color? " - Booklist.

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Author Information

Caryl Phillips Author Biography

Photo: Mariana Cook

Caryl Phillips is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including Dancing in the Dark, Crossing the River, and Color Me English. His novel A Distant Shore won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and his other awards include a Lannan Foundation Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Britain's oldest literary award the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in New York.

Link to Caryl Phillips's Website

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