Interviewed about his novels in 2003, Caryl Phillips declared ‘These all seem to be the same book, part of a continuum’ (Morrison). Obviously, his seventh work of fiction, A Distant Shore (2003), does not disrupt this sense of great cohesion, also acknowledged by his commentators. Although the contemporary setting of A Distant Shore is unusual for a novelist who has occasionally been labelled a chronicler of the African Diaspora, this new book constitutes another memorable stage in Phillips’ subtle, yet dogged fictional exploration of the tension between attachment and detachment, between belonging and unbelonging that has been part of human life since the beginning of times, especially for the migrant. If this concern sticks to Phillips’ novels almost like a second skin, it is addressed more openly in his non-fiction, notably in his recent collection of essays A New World Order (2001).
Ledent, Benedicte, ‘Of, and not of, this place’: Attachment and detachment in Caryl Phillips’ A distant shore, Kunapipi, 26(1), 2004.