In a recent article for Now Toronto, David Silverberg discusses Guernica author Austin Clarke’s profound significance for Canadian fiction writers, also mentioning the upcoming “’Membering: A Celebration of Austin Clarke” event at the International Festival of Authors.
Austin Clarke is nothing short of monolithic. Silverberg refers to Toronto poet laureate George Elliot Clarke’s statement that “no other Canadian fiction writer has so assiduously addressed the impact of class and social rank on his characters”. Austin Clarke’s writing manages to achieve this with remarkable creative skill. According to Silverberg, Clarke’s newest book, a memoir entitled ‘Membering, “suggests his creative powers are very much intact”.
Spoken word artist and Guernica poet Dane Swan also remarks “there’s a glass ceiling that many writers of colour struggle to break through, but he at least made it possible for us to see that it is possible”. Swan goes on to say “[Austin Clarke’s] most important book might be his next. That says a lot about him”.
This Sunday November 1st, the International Festival of Authors will be hosting some of Canada’s top literary talent including George Elliot Clarke, Lawrence Hill, Dane Swan and others, as they reflect on Austin Clarke’s influence. They will also be presenting readings from ‘Membering, and his latest poetry collection In Your Crib. Austin Clarke will also be in attendance.
Austin Clarke is the writer of ten novels, six short story collections, and three memoirs in the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and Holland. His books have been shortlisted for many awards, and have received numerous literary prizes. In 2003 he had a private audience with Queen Elizabeth in honor of his Commonwealth Prize for his tenth novel, The Polished Hoe, and in 1992 he was honored with a Toronto Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature. In 1998 he was invested with the Order of Canada, and in 1999 he received the Martin Luther King Junior Award for Excellence in Writing. His book In Your Crib, a “lyrical plea, both indictment and lamentation, and a powerful account of the ongoing struggle for racial equality” was released by Guernica Editions earlier this year.