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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

When He Was Free and Young and He Used to Wear Silks

by (author) Austin Clarke

introduction by Rinaldo Walcott

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Short Stories (single author), Literary, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Now available after over four decades, the first collection of short fiction from bestselling author and Barbadian-born Canadian luminary Austin Clarke — winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the Trillium Book Award for his novel The Polished Hoe — is a vital, lyrical, and provocative exploration of the Black immigrant experience in Canada.

Originally issued in 1971, Austin Clarke’s first published collection of eleven remarkable stories showcases his groundbreaking approach to chronicling the Caribbean diaspora experience in Canada. Characters move through the mire of working life, of establishing a home for themselves, of reconciling with what and who they left behind — all the while contending with a place in which their bone-chilling reception is both social and atmospheric. In lyrical, often racy, and wholly unforgettable prose, Clarke portrays a set of provocative, scintillating portraits of the psychological realities faced by people of colour in a society so often lauded for its geniality and openness.

About the authors

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

Rinaldo Walcott is an associate professor at OISE, University of Toronto. His research and teaching is in the area of black diaspora cultural studies with an emphasis on queer sexualities, masculinity and cultural politics. He is the author of Black Like Who (1997); he edited Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism (2000); and the co-editor Counselling Across and Beyond Cultures (2010).

Rinaldo Walcott's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Gives a convincing and compassionate picture of the life of these immigrants in Toronto set against the varied backgrounds of their West Indian life.

Windsor Star

Funny, sad, boisterous, virile, vigorous.

Queen’s Quarterly

Powerful and probing. Situations may be cruel, reactions vulgar, but the vitality of the characters is mirrored by the style which shapes and moulds and becomes, from time to time, the theme itself.

London Free Press

Tremendously versatile in what he expresses, and exhilarating to read.

Globe and Mail

Other titles by Austin Clarke

Other titles by Rinaldo Walcott