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Biography & Autobiography Literary

Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack

A Memoir

by (author) Austin Clarke

Initial publish date
Mar 2014
Literary, General, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2014
    List Price

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From the award-winning author of The Polished Hoe comes this delightful memoir about the trials, joys, and ultimate disillusionment of a small Barbadian boy experiencing British colonialism in the 1940s. Alive with the warmth and colour of the Caribbean, singing with the lilting cadence of Barbadian speech, this is renowned author Austin Clarke's own story--the story of the trails, joys, and ultimate disillusionment of a small Barbadian boy experiencing British colonialism in the 1940's. Authentic and vivid, Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack details the life of a boy whose mother struggled against insurmountable odds, yet succeeded in giving her son the best available education. It is a dazzling account of a slow, dogged climb upward in a society whose rigid customs, rules and expectations were imported from England and accepted almost without question by the islanders. It is the story of a boy bent on making his mark in that society, despite the cruelty of British schoolmasters and the incongruity of studying for his Senior Cambridge examinations in a mango tree--his improvised study--in a vast field of sugar cane. Throughout this first volume of Clarke's autobiography courses his irrepressible exhilaration with life itself, his deep delight in the antic humour of people who populated his childhood, and his unshakable pride in his heritage.

About the author

Culminating with the international success of The Polished Hoe in 2002, Austin Clarke has published ten novels, six short story collections, and three memoirs in the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and Holland. Storm of Fortune, the second novel in his Toronto Trilogy about the lives of Barbadian immigrants, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award in 1973. The Origin of Waves won the Rogers Communications Writers’ Development Trust Prize for Fiction in 1997. In 1999, his ninth novel,The Question, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. In 2003 he had a private audience with Queen Elisabeth in honour of his Commonwealth Prize for his tenth novel, The Polished Hoe. In 1992 Austin Clarke was honored with a Toronto Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, and in 1997, Frontier College granted him a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1998 he was invested with the Order of Canada, and he has received four honorary doctorates. In 1999 he received the Martin Luther King Junior Award for Excellence in Writing.

Austin Clarke's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Mr. Clarke is masterful.

The New York Times

Clarke is magnificent in transferring to his print the music, the poetry, the complete aptness of West Indian dialogue, It is comic, it is tragic, it is all shades in between. And a prose it is as near poetry as prose can become.

The Charlotte Observer

Uncommonly talented, Clarke sees deeply, and transmits his visions and perceptions so skillfully that reading him is an adventure.

Publishers Weekly

Exhilarating...Clarke makes West Indian speech into a form of music and poetry.

The Globe and Mail

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