The European Tribe

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Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1987 - Literary Criticism - 129 pages
In this richly descriptive and haunting narrative, Caryl Phillips chronicles a journey through modern-day Europe, his quest guided by a moral compass rather than a map. Seeking personal definition within the parameters of growing up black in Europe, he discovers that the natural loneliness and confusion inherent in long journeys collides with the bigotry of the "European Tribe" -- a global community of whites caught up in an unyielding, Eurocentric history.Phillips deftly illustrates the scenes and characters he encounters, in places like poverty-stricken Casablanca, racy Costa del Sol, and peaceful Provence where he muses with writer James Baldwin over dinner about the state of the human spirit. He explores Venice through the Shakespearean outcast Othello and views Amsterdam through the eyes of young Anne Frank. The result is, as Peter Ackroyd describes it, "a testament to one man's struggle against an enemy most of us are content not to see. . . . Engaging [and] moving".

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The European tribe

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British novelist Phillips set out in 1984 to explore Europe. He began his journey in Morocco, Europe's closest southern neighbor, and subsequently traveled to Spain, southern France (where he met ... Read full review

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About the author (1987)

Caryl Phillips, 1958 - Author Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts on March 13, 1958. He received a B.A. with honors from Oxford University and soon after began his writing career. He is now professor at Yale University and a visiting professor at Barnard College of Columbia University. Phillips has received many awards and fellowships and was appointed to the post of chief editor of the Faber and Faber Caribbean writers' series. Phillips' writing explores the challenges of dealing with such divisions as race and heritage, and investigates how they were created in the first place. In "Cambridge," he presents his characters confused identities and frequently compares their personal histories and questions the process of how stories become known as history. He draws links between groups, like the Jews during the Holocaust or Victorian women, to make analogies for the West Indian situation.

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