In Higher Ground, Caryl Phillips presents three characters separated by time and distance but united by the profound sympathy he has for their humanity. In the first story, a young West African is oppressed by the shadow of slavery; in the second an African-American fights to survive solitary confinement without sacrificing his integrity; in the third a Polish refugee struggles to ward off the increasing isolation of a life in exile.
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Caryl Phillips was born in St Kitts and now lives in London and New York. He has written for television, radio, theatre and cinema and is the author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction. Crossing the River was shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize and Caryl Phillips has won the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, as well as being named the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 1992 and one of the Best of Young British Writers 1993. A Distant Shore won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2004 and Dancing in the Dark was shortlisted in 2006.From Library Journal:
Throughout history people have found themselves trapped in dehumanizing situations, their sense of personal dignity challenged. It is such situations that connect the three stories making up this work. In the first, an African adept at languages finds himself the toady of slavers, accepted neither in his world nor theirs. In the second, a young black man in a Southern jail struggles to maintain his fierce pride and revolutionary fervor in the face of isolation and brutality. Indeed, one of the story's most telling moments occurs when he asks, ". . . they have called us nigger, then negro, then colored, and now black; do you imagine they will ever call us Americans?" The final story involves a young Polish woman, a refugee from Nazi terror, now trapped in fear and loneliness in England. While both interesting in concept and compelling, the book at times seems to be trying too hard, and the characters seem to lose their naturalness. Serious fiction for larger libraries from the author of State of Independence ( LJ 6/15/86).
- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
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