From the acclaimed author of Cambridge comes an ambitious, formally inventive, and intensely moving evocation of the scattered offspring of Africa. It begins in a year of failing crops and desperate foolishness, which forces a father to sell his three children into slavery. Employing a brilliant range of voices and narrative techniques, Caryl Phillips folows these exiles across the river that separates continents and centuries.
Phillips's characters include a freed slave who journeys to Liberia as a missionary in the 1830s; a pioneer woman seeking refuge from the white man's justice on the Colorado frontier; and an African-American G.I. who falls in love with a white Englishwoman during World War II. Together these voices make up a "many-tongued chorus" of common memory—and one of the most stunning works of fiction ever to address the lives of black people severed from their homeland.
Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts, West Indies, and brought up in England. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. His novel Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and an earlier novel, A Distant Shore, won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' 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 and currently lives in New York.
"A brilliantly coherent version of two and a half centuries of the African diaspora. . . . Richly counterpointed. . . . Its resonance continues to deepen." —The New York Times Book Review
"[Phillips] is a master ventriloquist, giving immediacy and voice to an impressive range of vivid characters about whom the reader cares deeply. . . . Wonderfully individual." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Like Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez, [Phillips] writes of times so heady and chaotic and of characters so compelling that time moves as if guided by the moon and dreams." —Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Uncommonly resourceful . . . an admirably complex and artfully wrought effort to renegotiate the staggering dimensions of the African diaspora. . . . A highly particularized web of damning circumstances, each crafted in its own distinctly styled prose . . . Crossing the River bears eloquently chastened testimony to the shattering of black lives." —Boston Globe
"Beautifully measured writing that powerfully evokes the far-reaching realities of the African diaspora. A masterwork." —Kirkus Reviews
"This ambitious novel amounts to a chorale. . . . Phillips's gifts are manifest and his technical prowess enlarges with each novel. . . . An impressively controlled performance." —Chicago Tribune
"With irony, understatement, and artful compression . . . Phillips distills the African diaspora to an essence, bitter and unforgettable." —Entertainment Weekly
"Memorable, convincing characters, broad vision, and evocative narrative result in a novel both resonant and deeply moving. . . . A stirring meditation on the hardship and perseverance of people torn from home." —Publishers Weekly
"Zigzagging across continents and generations, it is a fearless reimagining of the geography and meaning of the African diaspora. . . . Phillips brings an inventiveness and exacting lucidity to bear." —Village Voice