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In the Falling Snow by Caryl Phillips
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In the Falling Snow

by Caryl Phillips

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Readable novel describing what it's like to be a man, an ex-husband, an adult son, a father of an adolescent, and a West Indian in London. Clunky prose, and clunky shifts back and forth from a present story told in present tense to flashbacks, and lots of passages where a character is speaking in the kind of smooth detailed narration that has never come out of a person's mouth. But while these infelicities did get in a way for me a bit, I was engaged all the way through in the main character's struggles -- often ineffectual and counter-productive as they were -- to stay upright while big parts of his life fall away. Keith is a man who makes a lot of mistakes and miscalculations -- they cost him his marriage and his job -- but as a tour of his inner life, and how it connects up to his immigrant parents' past and his bi-racial son's future, the novel succeeds. ( )
  NancyKay_Shapiro | Jul 12, 2012 |
I'm a fan of this book. I related to it, and I'm only 26.

Keith is a British-born West Indian living in London - his life is that of a middle-aged man. It sounds generic, but it's rather thematically rich. Basically, he's fucked-up his cardinal relationships - career, father (although it's through no fault of Keith's), wife, and son. I agree with previous reviewers, he's a tad self-centered but his intentions are good enough. If only he'd act with purpose and get his shit together.

At points throughout, I found myself entranced by the characters and their stories. Annabel and her mother. Laurie and his slow opening. Brenda. Each character's story is revisited and fleshed-out as the novel comes to an end. It was quite beautiful, and I look forward to reading other books by Caryl Phillips. Recommended. ( )
  AsthmaticTree | Aug 2, 2010 |
I'm not terribly enthusiastic about this one. Perhaps due to the personality of the main character. I had to struggle to finish it.

Its the story of Keith who was born in England but his parents came from the Caribbean. He marries a white woman, has a child, laurie. The story begins when he has been divorced for three years. He makes some stupid mistakes with women, one of whom makes claims of sexual harassment and this, thereby, puts it job in jeopardy. There is a continuing relationship with his wife, problems with his son and with his father. Some issues get "resolved" but the ending still ends up "empty".

All in all, it was OK, would probably read other books by this author since his previous books have won the Commonwealth Prize and other awards. This might have been just an "off" book. ( )
  catarina1 | Nov 27, 2009 |
Keith Gordon is a second-generation black Briton in his late 40s whose previously staid life as a social worker in the Race Equality unit is slowly spiraling downward. His wife divorced him three years earlier, after he confessed to having a brief sexual encounter with a colleague at work. Their teenaged son is getting into more and more trouble in and outside of school, which threatens to derail his plans to attend university, as his parents seem unable to get through to him. He breaks off an affair with a younger woman who works for him, and she distributes their steamy e-mails to everyone in his department. And his father, who came to Britain during the large influx of West Indians in the early 1960s, is in failing health.

I found this novel of the experiences of three generations of black British men mildly interesting and well-written, but ultimately disappointing. Keith is an unsympathetic and irritating character, who is self-centered, immature and quite clueless in his relationships with his colleagues, family and his ex-lover. The book ended abruptly and incompletely, as if Phillips himself was fed up with Keith and wanted to be done with him. ( )
  kidzdoc | Aug 8, 2009 |
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Estranged from his entire family and accused of harassment by a colleague, social worker and race advocate Keith struggles with growing fears about the pointlessness of his work while tracing the events that have led to his present state.

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