Caryl Phillips is Professor of English at Yale University. He is the author of four books of nonfiction and seven novels. His most recent book, Dancing in the Dark, won the 2006 PEN/ Beyond Margins Award, and his previous novel, A Distant Shore, won the 2004 Commonwealth Prize. His other awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Organized to celebrate and discuss with Professor Phillips the US publication of his novel In the Falling Snow, The event took place at Labyrinth Books on October 12, 2009, and Professor Hazel Carby served as moderator.
Professor Phillips’ novel captures issues of diasporicity, class, and race in the late modern world through the story of both a man— Keith—at a turning point in his life and of a society moving from one notion of itself to another. Phillips notes on his website: “Keith— born in the 1960s to immigrant West Indian parents, raised primarily by his white stepmother —is in his forties, a social worker heading a Race Equality unit in London whose life has come undone: separated from his wife of twenty years (her family “let her go” for marrying a black man); kept at arm’s length by his seventeen-year-old son; estranged from his father; accused of harassment by a coworker. And beneath it all, a desperate feeling that his work and he himself are no longer relevant. Moving between past and present, the narrative uncovers the particulars of class, background, temperament, and desire that have brought Keith to this moment; and reveals how, often unwittingly, his wife, his son, and his father help him grasp the breadth of the changes that have occurred around him—and what those changes will require of him.”