Saturday, October 18, 2003

Like all of Phillips's novels, A Distant Shore gives you a lot to think about; Phillips builds his fiction around provocative issues. But he's not a prose stylist. His sentences are rarely metaphoric or rich, his dialogue is often unrevealing, and he's not a particularly deft handler of scenes. Especially irritating is his habit of leapfrogging over present-tense events only to turn around and recount them retrospectively, jamming discontinuous scenes together in successive paragraphs. You sometimes feel that Phillips is changing the channel just when things are getting interesting. And yet his novels have a way of growing on you, staying with you long after you've closed the book. Some writers are more interesting away from the page than on it.

-- From Rand Richards Cooper's review of Caryl Phillips's novel A Distant Shore in this weekend's NY Times Book Review.

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