Austin Clarke’s “Leaving This Island Place” is one of scores of Caribbean autobiographical works that focus on a bright, young, lower-class islander leaving his/her small island place and setting out on “Eldorado voyages.” The narrative of that journey away from home to Europe or Canada or the United States and the later efforts to return may be said to be the Caribbean story, as suggested in the subtitle of Wilfred Cartey’s study of Caribbean literature, Whispers from the Caribbean: I Going Away, I Going Home, which argues that while in Caribbean literature there is much movement away, there is also a body of literature in which “the notion of ‘away’ and images of movement out are replaced by images of return” (xvi). Traditionally, however, the first autobiographical works, such as George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin, V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, Merle Hodge’s Crick Crack, Monkey, Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven, Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory, and Elizabeth Nunez’s Beyond the Limbo Silence, have focused on the childhood in the Caribbean and the journey away—or at least the preparation for that journey. Such is the case with Clarke’s “Leaving This Island Place.”

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2010

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Copyright © 2010, University of Central Arkansas. This article first appeared in Journal of Caribbean Literatures: 6:3 (2010), 1-7.

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