About this book
When He Was Free and Young and He Used to Wear Silks
Now available after over four decades, the first collection of short fiction from bestselling author and Barbadian-born Canadian luminary Austin Clarke — winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the Trillium Book Award for his novel The Polished Hoe — is a vital, lyrical, and provocative exploration of the Black immigrant experience in Canada.
Originally issued in 1971, Austin Clarke’s first published collection of eleven remarkable stories showcases his groundbreaking approach to chronicling the Caribbean diaspora experience in Canada. Characters move through the mire of working life, of establishing a home for themselves, of reconciling with what and who they left behind — all the while contending with a place in which their bone-chilling reception is both social and atmospheric. In lyrical, often racy, and wholly unforgettable prose, Clarke portrays a set of provocative, scintillating portraits of the psychological realities faced by people of colour in a society so often lauded for its geniality and openness.