Austin Chesterfield Clarke, the award-winning Barbados-born author who wrote several novels, many of them about the experiences of black immigrants in Canada, died on Sunday at age 81, after a long illness.
Clarke won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for his 2002 novel “The Polished Hoe.”
A longtime resident of Toronto, Clarke came to Canada from Barbados in 1955 to attend the University of Toronto. After leaving university, he worked for several years as a journalist in Canada before he turned to writing fiction.
From 1986 to 1972 he taught at several universities in the United States. He lectured on black studies and taught creative writing.
Clarke was also a writer in residence at Concordia (then Sir George Williams ) University, Guelph University and the University of Toronto’s Massey College. He also taught for several years at the University of Toronto’s summer school for creative writing.
In the early 1970’s, he was appointed cultural attache at the Barbados Embassy in Washington . In 1975 he went to Barbados where he ran the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He returned to Canada in 1977.
While living in Toronto, Clarke dabbled in electoral politics. He ran unsuccessfully as a Progressive Conservative candidate for the Ontario legislature and as a candidate for mayor of the City of Toronto.
Clarke who wrote extensively about racism in Canada, took out Canadian citizenship only in 1981.He became a member of the Order of Canada in 1998.He was also the holder of four honorary degrees.
He is survived by four daughters, a son and his former wife, Betty.
A funeral service will be held at St. James Cathedral in Toronto on July 8 2016