Happy birthday, Austin Clarke!



A very happy birthday to writer Austin Clarke, who turns 79 today!

The prolific writer, journalist and teacher, is one of Canada's most decorated authors. His many accolades include winning the W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize in 1999, and the 2002 Giller Prize and Commonwealth Writers' Prize for his novel The Polished Hoe.

Born in 1934 and raised in Barbados, Clarke came to Canada in 1955 to study at the University of Toronto.

Clarke has explored subjects such as race relations, culture, discrimination and authority in both his fiction and non-fiction. We found this fascinating video clip in the CBC archives of a young Clarke being interviewed by host Anna Cameron in 1963. In it, he offers his thoughts on how race relations in Canada compare with the U.S., and describes the "pseudo-acceptance" he felt as a black man in the country during the early 1960s.

It's also revealed in this old clip that Clarke, at that time, was not interested in applying for Canadian citizenship because although officially he would be a citizen, he would not be "desirable." Clarke, however, did become a citizen in 1985, and would go on to be invested with the Order of Canada in 1998.




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