New Book: Caryl Phillips’s “Radio Plays”

Kittitian-British writer Caryl Phillips’s Radio Plays, anthologized and contextualized by Bénédicte Ledent, is now available. This collection of plays broadcast by the BBC between 1984 and 2016 includes: “The Wasted Years”; “Crossing the River”; “The Prince of Africa”; “Writing Fiction”; “A Kind of Home: James Baldwin in Paris”; “Hotel Cristobel”; “A Long Way from Home”; “Dinner in the Village”; and “Somewhere in England.”

Description: Caryl Phillips is one of the most respected writers of his generation. An award-winning author best known for his fiction, essays and stage plays, he is also the author of radio plays, nine of which were broadcast by the BBC between 1984 and 2016. Previously locked away in Phillips’s archives, housed at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, these hidden gems are now published in Caryl Phillips’s Radio Plays, the first collection of these important works of drama.

Despite being previously overlooked, these radio plays are fully creative works and constitute an integral part of Caryl Phillips’s literary universe. Not only do these dramatic texts display the author’s hallmark mix of formal elegance and sharp social criticism, but they also offer compelling points of comparison with the rest of his wider writing. From the experience on an eighteenth-century slave ship and the life of a migrant family in 1980s England, to an account of James Baldwin’s time in Paris and Marvin Gaye’s stay in Belgium, these plays grapple with expansive themes in creative and dramatic ways.

Contextualized by a scholarly introduction by Bénédicte Ledent, this volume introduces these works in the published form for the first time, allowing readers a better grasp of Phillips’s narrative techniques, offering fascinating vistas into his imaginary world, which ranges from the history of the African diaspora to the predicament of displaced individuals the world over.

Caryl Phillips is the award-winning author of eleven novels, four stage plays and five volumes of non-fiction, in addition to numerous radio plays, scripts and essays. His latest fiction, A View of the Empire at Sunset (2018), focuses on the life of Dominican-born writer Jean Rhys. Identity, migration, and history are among the main themes of his writing, which also stands out for its formal daring.

Bénédicte Ledent is honorary professor at the University of Liège. She has published extensively on Caryl Phillips and has worked on numerous editorial projects, the latest of which is a special issue of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, edited in collaboration with Daria Tunca and devoted to postcolonial biographical fiction. She is co-editor of the book series Cross/Cultures (Brill) and editor of the Caryl Phillips bibliography (

For more information, see

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s