Austin C. Clarke was born in Barbados in 1934 in a poor single parent family with an absent father. He left for Canada in 1955, settling in Toronto. His first two novels are set in Barbados, but thereafter much of his fiction has focused on the lives of West Indians in Canada, as a result of which he has been hailed as the country’s first multicultural writer. One exception is his recent novel, The Polished Hoe (2002), which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and is set in 1930s Barbados. He is the author of eleven novels, six short-story collections and several works of memoir. In 1998, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.