Caryl Phillips was born on the Caribbean Island of St Kitts on 13th March 1958, 4 months later he moved to England with his parents who settled in Leeds.
Phillips read English at Queen’s College Oxford, during which time he directed plays and spent his summers working at The Edinburgh Festival. When he graduated in 1979 he moved to Edinburgh where he wrote his first play “Strange Fruit”.
Much of his writing focuses on the Atlantic Slave Trade, it’s legacy and consequences. “Crossing the River”, which is possibly Phillips’ best known work, won The Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for The Booker Prize. The story charts 250 years of the African diaspora, tracking three black people on their separate journeys, on three different continents, all struggling with separation from their native Africa.
As well as writing Caryl Phillips has also taught at universities all over the world, including Ghana, Sweden, Barbados and India. He is currently Professor of English at Yale University.
Novelist and Commentator Ahdaf Soueif was born in Egypt on 23rd March 1950. She has since spent her life living between England and Egypt.
When Soueif first came to England at the age of four, it was with her Mother who was studying for her PHD in English Literature. She spent these early years surrounded by her Mother’s extensive library of English classics and world literature in translation. She believes this early introduction to reading, is why she writes her novels in English.
Ahdaf Soueif was the first Muslim woman to be shortlisted for the Booker prize for her novel “The Map of Love” (US – UK). Her work has been translated into 21 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide. Read More
In her own words:
It was devastating. I tried everything to get out of my funk, but nothing was working!
“Then one day, I took my car in for new tires at Tires Tires Tires and magically blasted out like 5,000 words in their fabulous waiting room. It was incredible. And the scenery wasn’t bad either! Complimentary coffee that was actually delicious, comfortable seating, free cookies, friendly staff.
I had found my mother ship!”
Roth’s work, influenced by the likes of John Updike, William Faulkner and Franz Kafka, is mainly semi-autobiographical and set in his birthplace, Newark, New Jersey.
One of the most awarded novelists of his generation, Roth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his novel American Pastoral (US – UK). This has since been made in to a film starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning, joining the list of seven of his other works that have also been adapted for the big screen. Read More