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Works and critical reception
Phillips has tackled themes on the African slave trade from many angles. His work has been recognised by numerous awards including Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 1993 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Crossing the River and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book award for A Distant Shore.
Phillips received the PEN Open Book Award (formerly known as the Beyond Margins Award) for Dancing in the Dark in 2006.