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The Atlantic Sound by Caryl Phillips

The Atlantic Sound (2000)

by Caryl Phillips

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Phillips has crafted a complex and deceptively straightforward piece of creative nonfiction with Atlantic Sound. An intricate weave of travel writing, history, and fiction, this book explores postcolonial concepts of home and identity as an evolution of ideas and violences occurring over time, from the 1800s on through the present day. His clear writing and careful characterizations make the book a fast read worth pursuing both for pleasure and knowledge. Whether you call it a long essay or a history, creative nonfiction or fiction, this is a book worth exploring. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 18, 2011 |
Caryl Phillips explores, both literally and figuratively, the transatlantic slave-trade route between Europe, Africa, and America, in The Atlantic Sound. In each of the 3 parts of the book he visits a part of 'the triangle,' Liverpool, Ghana, and Charleston, and tells the histories of these places and how they were affected by the slave trade. And he does it wonderfully!

The Atlantic Sound just sucked me in. It's one of those books you read and lose track of time, then look up an hour later without realizing you've been reading for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Despite the emotional subject, Caryl delivered it in a way as to make it readable, yet no less alarming, due in large part to his storytelling ability. His 'characters' jump out of the page at you, he really brought these historical figures to life.

Most important, in my opinion, is how the author's personality seeps through the pages. Witty, a bit snarky, and hopelessy pessimistic most of the time. Loved it.

The books is a riveting read, I came upon it 'randomly' and am so happy I did. 4 stars! ( )
2 vote Ape | Feb 3, 2011 |
An interesting read that revealed some of the complexities behind slavery and the deep problems and issues it created for people on three continents. ( )
  bojanfurst | May 11, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375401105, Hardcover)

Caryl Phillips has established himself as one of the supreme chroniclers of African dispossession and exile. In previous works such as The European Tribe and Crossing the River, he documents the ironies of post-colonial history. Phillips's latest book is perhaps best described as a "meditation," although it is also a fine and invigorating book. The subject of Phillips's broodings is that of displacement, diaspora, homelessness--all those things that ineluctably accompany any descendant of West African slaves. Phillips himself was born in St. Kitts, West Indies, in 1958, and so here he retraces the first transatlantic journey he made with his mother in the late 1950s, by banana boat from the Caribbean to the gray shores of the Mother Country. He visits three cities central to the slave trade: Liverpool, Elmina in Ghana, and Charleston. Finally in Israel, he finds a community of 2,000 African Americans who have lived in the Negev desert for 30 years. Wholly absorbing, always surprising, brilliantly observant, sensitive to human tragedy but never pessimistic, Phillips writes as beautifully as ever. "It is futile to walk into the face of history. As futile as trying to keep the dust from one's eyes in the desert." --Christopher Hart, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:59 -0400)

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