Black History Month author: Marlene Nourbese Philip

Marelene Nourbese Philip was born in Tobago in 1947. She studied economics at the University of the West Indies, and completed her studies in Ontario where she went on to become a lawyer. All the while she was writing stories and poems, and by 1980 she began to publish some of these works to wide acclaim. Thorns (1980), and Salmon Courage (1983) were her first two works, and She Tries Her Tongue: Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989), won of the 1988 Casa De Las Americas literary prize for poetry. Harriet’s Daughter was Philip’s first work of fiction. The story deals with issues of immigration, exile, language and generational conflicts faced by young-adults in a multi-racial society with a level of insight that has stayed fresh ever since. Harriet’s Daughter was awarded a Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Choice Award in 1989, and was runner-up for the Canadian Library Association’s Award for Children’s Literature and the Max and Greta Abel Award, and it won the Ontario School Library Association Award for the Canadian Learning Materials of the Year. Perhaps what survives these older awards, however, is the fact that this book has become a staple in homes and classrooms across North America. You can read more about Harriet’s Daughter here.

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