480 pages, 9.25 × 6.25 × 1.25 in
September 3, 2002
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0887621104
ISBN - 13: 9780887621109
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2002 Scotiabank Giller Prize and of the 2003 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best Book (Canada and the Caribbean)
When an elderly Bimshire village woman calls the police to confess to a murder, the result is a shattering all-night vigil that brings together elements of the African diaspora in one epic sweep. Set on the post-colonial West Indian island of Bimshire in 1952, The Polished Hoe unravels over the course of 24 hours but spans the lifetime of one woman and the collective experience of a society informed by slavery.
As the novel opens, Mary Mathilda is giving confession to Sargeant, a police officer she has known all her life. The man she claims to have murdered is Mr. Belfeels, the village plantation owner for whom she has worked for more than thirty years. Mary has also been Mr. Belfeels' mistress for most of that time and is the mother of his only son, Wilberforce, a successful doctor.
What transpires through Mary's words and recollections is a deep meditation about the power of memory and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. Infused with Joycean overtones, this is a literary masterpiece that evokes the sensuality of the tropics and the tragic richness of Island culture.
About the Author
Culminating with the international success of The Polished Hoe in 2002, Austin Clarke's work since 1964 includes ten novels, six short-story collections, and three memoirs published in the United States, England, Canada, Australia and Holland. In 1998, Clarke was invested with the Order of Canada, and since then he has received four honorary doctorates. In 1999, he was the winner of the W.O. Mitchell Prize, awarded to a Canadian writer who has produced an outstanding body of work and served as a mentor for other writers. In that year, he also received the Martin Luther King Junior Award for Excellence in Writing. Austin Clarke lives in Toronto.
From Our Editors
The Polished Hoe is an epic symphony of Caribbean life. Layers of disturbing history slowly unfold through one woman’s intimate, murderous confession. Mary-Mathilda – the fair-skinned mistress of a cruel plantation manager – tells her story in an exquisite, dancing vernacular and it is the story of a life, a culture, a time gone by. But its meditation on love, loss and sacrifice, and its explorations of lives distorted by the horrors of racism are utterly contemporary.
Austin Clarke's latest novel, The Polished Hoe, is that rare creation that soars above the earth to become more than the sum of its parts.