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3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  80 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
A powerful and affecting new book from Caryl Phillips: a brilliant 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
Hardcover, 235 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Knopf (first published September 13th 2007)
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Friederike Knabe
Apr 25, 2015 Friederike Knabe rated it liked it
Three historical figures, black or mixed-race, living at very different times in England, are the subject of Caryl Phillips's latest book. Two of them had come at a young age from the West Indies and West Africa respectively, the third was a son of an immigrant father and a white English mother. They have in common their belief that England is their home and their yearning to fit into the society of their time. All three marry into English families and raise families of their own. However, as a ...more
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son pham
Sep 12, 2011 son pham rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book, not due to it's "spiritual prose" but also a social "awareness" that shows the many facets of humanity. Whether if it was self-inflicted suffering such as the first story about a servant to Samuel Johnson who after the death of his friend and master, he self-destructs rapidly downward to despair. The second story is the all so often story of the Rise and Fall of a sports figure. In this case, it is about the boxing champion Randolph Turpin who came to fame by knocking ou ...more
Aug 04, 2014 DubaiReader rated it it was ok
Shelves: audible, 2014
Three 'long' stories.

Although this book should fall within my chosen genres it totally failed to grab me.
It narrated a series of three fictionalised tales of coloured men who had lived in the UK, two during the last century and one in the eighteenth century.
I found it unnecessarily drawn out and wordy and I only finished it because it was an audiobook. Even this was not a great selling point, as the last story, about David Oluwale, a Nigerian stowaway who arrived in Leeds in 1949 and who trigger
Jun 17, 2016 yb rated it really liked it
Probably closer to 3.5 stars, but my love for Phillips' work made me round up. From the title page on, this book makes evident how critical race is to the identity and, more importantly, the perception of three very different men in three distinct eras. Perhaps is should not be surprising that one's fate may be shaped so heavily, if not completed determined, by others' actions. Still, these are the stories of men who might have gotten in their own ways at times, but who were never equipped to su ...more
Dec 29, 2010 Bernadette rated it really liked it
I learned a great deal about three black men from different eras and how they were treated in English society. The author blends journalistic, historical and fictional expertise to tell these stories in a compassionate way that goes straight to the heart. This is the second Phillips book I've read and I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.
Sandra D
Three fictionalized stories of three black men who really did live in England -- one in the 1700s and two in the 20th century. An intriguing premise, but the execution was uneven. The first story was dull, the second was better, but the third story was the real showstopper here. It was thoroughly -- and hideously -- tragic.
Nicholas Dubé
Feb 16, 2015 Nicholas Dubé rated it really liked it
This historical fiction, yet factual, novel was interesting and enlightened me on racial tensions and prejudice in 1900s Europe. Using three different characters, the novel was interesting and kept my attention from the perspectives of three different individuals.
Jul 29, 2011 Marcos rated it really liked it
My god, what a wallop these short stories packed. The story, Made in Wales was absolutely heartbreaking. What a writing voice. So objective and so passive (like Morgan Freeman voiceovers) but eventually throttles with pangs of alienated anger and confusion.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I would have to echo the recommendation of an earlier reviewer, who pointed out that each story is really it's own novella. Considering the three pieces to be part of a single narrative arc might leave one feeling unsatisfied; on their own, each novella is startling, brisk, and eye-opening.
Jan 04, 2010 Megan rated it it was ok
A portrait of three black men in British history. Interesting subject matter, but the story doesn't really draw you in the way some Caryl Phillips stories do.
Mar 25, 2008 Nate rated it liked it
Three separate historical fiction pieces about a black man's fall from grace. Caryl Phillips makes impressive style changes and creates human faces for the history of British race relations.
Laura rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2012
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Caryl Phillips was born in St.Kitts and came to Britain at the age of four months. He grew up in Leeds, and studied English Literature at Oxford University.

He began writing for the theatre and his plays include Strange Fruit (1980), Where There is Darkness (1982) and The Shelter (1983). He won the BBC Giles Cooper Award for Best Radio Play of the year with The Wasted Years (1984). He has written
More about Caryl Phillips...

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