Caryl Phillips was born on 13 March 1958 on the Caribbean
The Final Passage, his first novel, won the Malcolm X Prize for Literature. It tells the story of a young woman who leaves her home in the Caribbean to start a new life with her husband and baby in 1950s
Although Phillips is best known today as a novelist, his initial artistic leanings were towards drama. Phillips's first play, Strange Fruit centres on a Caribbean family that has lived in
The gendered nature of journeying is particularly prominent in his first novel, The Final Passage . The book follows the story of Leila, a young mother and her selfish, unsupportive husband Michael as they travel from the Caribbean to
The Final Passage is more than a reference to the ill-fated journey of Leila and her husband Michael, it is also an allusion to the middle passage of the slave trade. Beyond the surface realism of this deceptively simple narrative the reader is confronted with the kind of formal and linguistic experimentation of later work such as Crossing the River. Structured around five sections ('The End', 'Home', 'England', 'The Passage' and 'Winter'), The Final Passage is a disorienting, discontinuous narrative where the beginning is 'The End' and the end suggests a new kind of beginning (for Leila and her child).
The return 'home' that is anticipated at the end of The Final Passage became the subject of Phillips's next novel, A State of Independence . Like Moses, the archetypal character of Selvon's '