Reviews

Not Quite Home

Dylan Gyles

Austin Clarke, an immigrant from Barbados, has spent his life considering the Canadian identity from his perspective as a journalist, novelist, poet, professor, politician—and outsider. In his latest collection of short fiction, They Never Told Me and Other Stories (Exile Editions), Clarke presents a vision of Canada as a country more preoccupied with the appearance of multicultural enlightenment than with its actual practice. His stories are about culture shock on the part of immigrants from the West Indies and their bleak encounters with Canadian civility: fresh-off-the-plane Calvin is in blind pursuit of material North American identity in the form of a Ford Galaxie; Enid has barricaded herself in her house, praying for the postie to bring her something more promising than another eviction notice; a tenured professor searches in vain for authentic black culture amongst the elitist university crowd. One by one, Clarke’s characters realize that they are in “a home that is not quite home,” a country that does not live up to the ideal they were told about. The book ends with a short story about Clarke himself, written by his friend Barry Callaghan, who perfectly sums up the author’s conflicted feelings toward a country that welcomes you in while muttering “get out” under its breath.

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Dylan Gyles

Dylan Gyles is a writer and barista. He writes short fiction and creative non-fiction. He is originally from Winnipeg and now lives in Vancouver.


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