Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction General

The Motorcyclist

by (author) George Elliott Clarke

Initial publish date
Mar 2017
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Just start your engine. Go.

Carl Black is an intellectual and an artist, a traveller and an unapologetic womanizer. A motorcyclist. He burns for the bohemian life, but is trapped in a railway worker’s prosaic—and at times humiliating—existence. Set in 1959 in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia, the novel vividly recounts Carl’s travels and romantic exploits as he tours the backroads of the East Coast and courts a bevy of beautiful women. The Motorcyclist is a portrait of a black working-class man caught between the expectations of his time and the gleaming possibilities of the open road.

In vibrant, energetic, sensual prose, George Elliott Clarke brilliantly illuminates the life of a young black man striving for pleasure, success and, most of all, respect.

About the author

George Elliott Clarke is a Canadian poet and playwright. Born in Windsor Plains, Nova Scotia, he has spent much of his career writing about the Black communities of Nova Scotia and served for a time in the African-American Studies department at Duke University. He earned a BA Honours degree in English from the University of Waterloo (1984), an MA in English from Dalhousie University (1989), and a PhD in English from Queenâ??s University (1993). In addition, he has received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University (LLD), the University of New Brunswick (LittD), the University of Alberta (LittD), and the University of Waterloo (LittD). He is currently professor of English at the University of Toronto.

In 2001 he won the Governor Generalâ??s Literary Award for poetry for his book Execution Poems. Clarkeâ??s work largely explores and chronicles the experience and history of the black Canadian community of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that Clarke often refers to as Africadia. Clarkeâ??s Whylah Falls was one of the selected books in the 2002 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by Nalo Hopkinson.

George Elliott Clarke's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Black is easily one of the most compelling, dynamic and conflicting characters in recent Canadian fiction. . . . [W]ith The Motorcyclist, Clarke has rendered not just an entire world, but also an entire man, flawed and unforgettable.” — Toronto Star

“Rich, dense and syntactically serpentine.” — The Globe and Mail

“This ribald, raw, road-movie of a novel is an object lesson in how to combine the political with the personal.” — Quill & Quire

The Motorcyclist, functions as a quintessential Canadian novel, to be consumed by Canadians of all stripes while it drives home hard truths on what it meant - and still often means - to zoom along life’s path as a person of colour in contemporary Canada.” — National Post

“A captivating work that is, not surprisingly, poetic in language and intent.” — Ottawa Citizen

“The prose flows like music and will have you dreaming about the romance of the road and the heat between a man and a woman.” — Canadian Living

Other titles by George Elliott Clarke