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The Atlantic Sound

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  148 Ratings  ·  13 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 ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Alfred A Knopf
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Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I don't know how interesting this text would be for anyone who doesn't care about formulations of diasporic identity and texts that challenge genre boundaries, but I personally enjoyed this book. Though it's not a book of theory, it almost reads like one because of the way it dramatizes theory (does that make sense?). I love Stuart Hall with every cell in my body, but I have to say that I enjoyed an approach to diasporic identity that didn't scream THEORY! That's not a critique of Hall, not at a ...more
Rachel Svendsen
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is part travel book, part history book, and covers several trips the author made in order to study the African diaspora and look for global community among blacks.

Even if that topic is of no interest to you, the historical sections were fascinating. One of them went deep into the roots of Liverpool, England to discuss its key role in the slave trade, as well as more current issues of race within the community. The other was about Charleston, South Carolina and the life of District Judg
Leslie Graff
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was accidentally put on a reading list on grad school by a prof who dismissed it as not falling correctly into the category we were studying – the contemporary novel. And so it sat unread on the shelf for many years.
I’ve used Phillips’ essays from A New World Order many times in teaching but this book always seemed interesting in its conceit yet, as my prof noted, not easily fitting into any category. That observation in itself is probably fitting considering Phillips’ point here and
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Travels of the middle passage: unexpected tone, aim and even subject matter. It's excellent

I picked this book up in the library probably because of its alluring cover image and title, I'll admit it. And I was prepared to even enjoy what I thought was coming: an intellectual travel book of the Paul Theroux ilk, with perhaps the added sarcasm and chip on the shoulder due any returing British colonial.

It was, however, immediately more interesting and engrossing than any of those books Mr. Theroux h
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
I guess I just didn't get this book. The historical part in Liverpool, where John Ocansey journeys from Africa to Liverpool to find out what happened to his father's money, was the most interesting part because John is a sympathetic character. Next most interesting were the author's experiences in Ghana, because I've never been there. Judge Waring is also mildly interesting - did he believe in civil rights, or was he really so desperate for friends (because he was ostracized because he divorced ...more
dead letter office
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it

I used to see the author from afar and have always been curious about his writing. As usual, I never gathered the courage to talk to him, but I finally got around to reading something he wrote. This starts slow and gains strength as it goes. Parts of it are historical fiction, parts are autobiographical, and parts are history. It chronicles the author's travels (England, Ghana, the Caribbean, America, Israel), and bits and pieces of history (an African trader visits England in the 1800s, an Afri
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well researched and interesting personal encounter with some historical aspects of the slave trade. The almost haphazard narrative can be irritating, and at the outset you mistake this lack of warp and weft for laziness. Phillips also adopts a disinterested position towards his participants at the cost of our engagement, but the accumulation of accounts overcomes this and we end up as participants in his journey. As reportage it lacks bite, particularly in comparison to actual accounts of slaver ...more
Christy Collins
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
This book seemed patchy and uneven to me. There were sections I very much enjoyed and found very illuminating on slavery, the slave trade and its effects on our world and societies today. Some of it was quite entertaining and the complexities he teases out are necessary, important observations that I am glad to have encountered. Overall I suspect I may enjoy Phillips' fiction more than this nonfiction/travel literature.
Ryan Bissoon
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant beyond words. This is required reading for anyone with slightest interest in the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade. Philips has Naipaul's keen eye, but without the emotional distance. This lends his writing an acuity and makes his observations free of bias. Rarely is travel writing this unputdownable.
Portia Andrew
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book contains several travel narratives of Caryl Phillips all with an overarching theme of the African slave trade. "Where do you come from, where do you really come from?" is the question that has Phillips irritated throughout. I don't blame him. People from so many places made assumptions based on the colour of his skin.
Sarah KKKKKKKK irnon
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
a fellow West Indian who writes a bout the transatlantic slave trade , Mr Phillips lets his own feelings seep through, but he tames them and moves with the stories of people and places of past. The Guardian reviewed this book a few years ago , and referred to it as "historically illuminating " they weren't half wrong.
This book is a permanent fixture on the table next to my sleeping vessel.
An excellent, intriguing memoir of one man's expedition of self-discovery, overlying a historical narrative of another man's travel.
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Reading this the second time and it's even better than before.
Dustin Hartley
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Nov 19, 2012
Monique Deane
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Oct 28, 2016
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Nov 29, 2007
Emily Hughes
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Sep 01, 2016
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Afro Book Club: The Atlantic Sound - Book Discussion 3 12 Oct 06, 2014 07:11AM  
  • John Aubrey: My Own Life
  • Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route
  • After Nature
  • The Missing
  • This Is My Beloved
  • Distant Voices
  • The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong
  • In the Castle of My Skin
  • Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution
  • The Other
  • London: City of Disappearances
  • When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010
  • To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface
  • The Dancing Mind
  • This Earth, My Brother
  • The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine--Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary
  • Giving up America
  • Skating to Antarctica
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
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