Essays · Non-Fiction · Ying L

Color Me English: Migration and Belonging Before and After 9/11 | by Caryl Phillips

Color Me English: Migration and Belonging Before and After 9/11 by Caryl Phillips
(New Press, 2011, 339 pages)

The author of Color Me English has an unusual background, a  blessing for a writer. He was born in the Caribbean and raised in Britain. He studied English Literature at Oxford and has lived here in the United States since 1990. This book is a collection of essays on race, politics, literature, music and travel. I really enjoyed it. The essays are interesting, informative and thought-provoking.

I was pleasantly surprised to read several essays on international literary figures including Jamaican and Japanese writers. The James Baldwin essay is especially satisfying.  “Ground Zero” (2001) is heartbreaking and brought me to tears. Phillips is also very appreciative of his research assistants. Here’s what he says in his essay, “The Fire”:

Having somebody trustworthy to delve in libraries, deal with the intricacies of inter-library loan, do Xeroxing, and find answers to questions of a factual nature is a blessing that I am grateful for. It is true to say that I could do most of it myself, but if I find myself sitting in a hotel room on the other side of the world, and I need some information immediately, it helps to have a capable and efficient person at the end of the phone.

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