Return of the Native

Hugh Barnes

  • The Final Passage by Caryl Phillips
    Faber, 205 pp, £8.95, February 1985, ISBN 0 571 13437 8
  • Merle, and Other Stories by Paule Marshall
    Virago, 210 pp, £9.95, February 1985, ISBN 0 86068 665 5
  • Heaven and Earth by Frederic Raphael
    Cape, 310 pp, £8.95, February 1985, ISBN 0 224 02294 6
  • The Tenth Man by Graham Greene
    Bodley Head, 157 pp, £6.95, March 1985, ISBN 0 370 30831 X

Homesickness is fabulous magic. Even as the world shrinks and the epic edge is blunted, the resettlement myth persists. Ulyssean travelogues are few and far between in Caryl Phillips’s The Final Passage and the novels of Paule Marshall, but families uproot themselves. Their stories correspond, but not in time or place. Phillips’s travellers leave their small Caribbean island for Britain in the 1950s, when prospects were cheery. The white folks of the West had never had it so good: too good, or so their masters told them, to settle at menial labours. Since the publication of her first novel, Brown Girl, Brownstones, in 1959, Paule Marshall has been weaving a delicate history of the Barbadians who emigrated to America earlier in the century. Stepping off the boats, though not all were so fortunate, the wayfarers arrived in their new homes with nothing to declare but memories and aspirations.

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