The Survivors of the Crossing
It is 1961 and independence is in the air in Barbados. But on a rural sugar estate, the workers wonder whether slavery has ever ended. Feeling abandoned by the politicians in Bridgetown, Rufus, a canecutter, decides that they must struggle for a better life, even if they have to stand alone.
Austin Clarke
ISBN number
Caribbean Modern Classics
Fiction, Novel
Country setting
Publication date
30 Aug 2011

Confronted by the old “White alliance” of land-owners, the official church and the magistracy, and the two-faced attitudes of the village shopkeeper and schoolteacher, Rufus is fatally undermined by his own naivety, ignorance and misogyny. The latter cuts him off from the intelligence and support of his partner Stella, and from Clementina, the preacher at the village church, who has leadership skills Rufus can only dream of.

First published in 1964, this acerbic tragi-comedy of status, play-acting and double-dealing reveals a Barbadian nation still deeply entrenched in the colonial structures of economic power, class and race. The novel’s challenge to decolonise both structures and mentalities still speaks powerfully to the present. A powerful debut in a distinguished literary career and a novel whose bleak comedy of absurdity connects it to Orlando Patterson’s existentialist tragedy, The Children of Sisyphus, which came out the following year.

With an introduction by Aaron Kamugisha

Austin C. Clarke is hailed as a pioneer of Caribbean-Canadian literature and is one of Canada's most prolific, if not well known, writers.


Austin Clarke

Born in Barbados in 1934, Clarke was educated at Harrison College and became a schoolteacher before moving to Canada in 1955 to study at the University of Toronto.
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