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Conversation: Caryl Phillips & Abdulrazak Gurnah, with Radhika Jones

April 28, 2007 | The CUNY Graduate Center | New York City

Co-sponsored by the Martin E. Segal Theater Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY, and The Paris Review

Critically acclaimed novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah and Caryl Phillips have written many novels about displacement and loss, real lives in fictional guises, and the need to give voice to the silenced. In the  forthcoming Foreigners, Caryl Phillips traces a young Nigerian’s terrifying journey to the United Kingdom and eventually to his death at the hands of the police. Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Desertion explores the legacy of slavery and colonialism in Zanzibar and how the institution complicated that country’s revolution and movement toward independence in the early 1950s. Moderated by Radhika Jones of The Paris Review.

Discussed: writing as a first- or second-generation immigrant; having to account for oneself; split narratives and shifting perspectives; writing in secret; exhuming forgotten stories; and the usefulness of the “postcolonial” label.

• Entire conversation (52:39)


From the PEN Blogs• Luke Eplin:
At the start of the conversation with Caryl Phillips and Abdulrazak Gurnah, the moderator Radhikah Jones made a comment that reminded me of the cultural differences between the United States and the United Kingdom . . . [More]





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