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“It’s not the best book I’ve ever read.”

The book that changed my life
Native Son by Richard Wright. I read it when I was 20. Nobody had ever given me a book written by anyone who looked like me. Some part of me didn’t think it was legitimate to think of myself as a writer. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read. It’s not my favourite. But it’s the old saying: “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” And I saw it for the first time that this was possible.

This is Caryl Phillips, reflecting on his reading life. I had never heard of Phillips until hearing his thoughts on “the English canon” on a recent Guardian podcast. I suspect he’s under-published here in the States (thus partly excusing my ignorance) but I will certainly be on the lookout for his stuff. 

November 29, 2019 in Books | Permalink