Caryl Phillips is a British novelist born on March 13, 1958 in St. Kitts. After graduating from secondary school, he attended Queen’s College at Oxford to study English. His artistic talents were unleashed at university where he directed plays and worked as a stage assistant at Edinburgh Festival. He would later move to Edinburgh and write his first play entitled Strange Fruit, which was performed by the Crucible Theatre. Phillips continuously wrote plays to support himself, including Where There is Darkness (1982) and Shelter (1983). However, his career as a novelist started when he released his first book, The Final Passage, in 1985.
In 1997, Phillips published his sixth novel, The Nature of Blood, which tells the story of Eva Stern, a girl who was recently liberated from a German concentration camp during the World War II era. The book is structured so that flashbacks reveal Eva’s traumatizing experiences in the camp, allowing the reader to explore the differences between the incarcerated Eva and the liberated Eva. This haunting story addresses issues of European colonialism and people’s obsession with ethnic identity.
Upon its publication, The Nature of Blood received positive reviews from audiences and critics for its moving social commentary. Publishers Weekly praises Caryl Phillips for “brilliantly [capturing] his various protagonists' voices, evoking their common humanity as they struggle with and against social definitions of the nature of their blood.”
Since The Nature of Blood, Phillips has taken up teaching positions at various institutions, including Barnard College and Yale University. He has also written four more novels: A Distant Shore, Dancing in the Dark, In the Falling Snow, and The Lost Child.