Crossing the River
by Caryl Phillips
A Booker shortlisted novel by one of the finest writers of his generation. A voice speaking out of a distant past, describes the consequences of his desperation- his daughter and two sons are condemned to the hold of an English slave ship bound for America in 1753. Here are the stories of these children- Nash, Martha, and Travis. Yet as the narrative unfolds, we come to understand that although they are his children, they are also all of slavery's children. Nash, returning to Africa in the 1830's a Christian-educated adult, a missionary to the new territory of Liberia, slowly becoming a part of the world his 'masters' intended him to convert...Martha, her own daughter and husband sold away from her, settling in the American wild west of the late nineteenth century, freeing herself from slavery but never from the weight of "such misery in one life"...Travis, an American GI stationed in a small Yorkshire village during the Second World War, finding an acceptance in England that he doesn't know at home and that he may not be able to promise his half-English son...These brilliantly resonant stories - along with the slave ship captain's journal and the lamentations of the children's father - become a "many-tongued chorus of common memory" so vivid and powerful that it bridges the gaps between continents and centuries, inextricably linking the many generations of the African diaspora, one to the other.