Independence by Cecil Foster | The Bukowski Agency

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Hardback, 320 pages


Canada: HarperCollins, Jan 2014


Cecil Foster
(Photo: Lisa Sakulensky)

Cecil Foster is a Canadian novelist, essayist, journalist, and scholar. He was born in Barbados in 1954 and emigrated to Canada in 1978. He has been a reporter for various newspapers and was editor of Contrast, Canada's first Black-oriented newspaper, and senior editor for The Financial Post. He has also worked for the CBC in radio and television. Cecil Foster’s non-fiction books include Distorted Mirror: Canada's Racist Face (1991); A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada (1996); Island Wings: A Memoir (1998); Where Race Does Not Matter (2005), and Blackness and Modernity: The Colour of Humanity and the Quest for Freedom (2007). His four novels include the highly praised debut No Man in the House (1991) and Sleep On, Beloved (1995), both published by Ballantine in the USA and Random House in Canada; Slammin’ Tar (1998), and Dry Bone Memories (2001). In 2002 Cecil completed his doctorate, an exploration of the concept of Blackness in Canada, at York University. Since then he has been an academic. Currently, he is Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, and Associate Director of Canadian Studies in the Department of Transnational Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.


a novel by Cecil Foster


Independence - HarperCollins coverIndependence is the touching story of the coming of age of a country and two teenagers in it, at the time of Barbados’ independence from Britain in 1966. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King have been neighbours and best friends since they were born a few months apart. They have been raised by their impoverished grandmothers after their mothers went “over ’n’ away” to the USA and Canada to find work when the children were toddlers; no one has heard from the mothers since. The grandmothers are growing more and more desperate about their ability to support their charges. When the novel opens, there is a sudden and unexplained rift between Christopher and Stephanie following the return from Canada of a benefactor named Mr. Lashley, who lavishes gifts on Stephanie.

Through a series of triumphs and catastrophes, Christopher and Stephanie determine their places in the world and take control of their lives. Rich with the details of Bajan culture, from food preparation to political and financial affairs, from sexuality to spirituality, Independence is a fascinating window onto a little-known world, and a moving portrait of a journey to adulthood and the women who guide it.



Independence is a richly detailed novel, offering a vivid portrait of a Bajan society in flux.”  — QUILL & QUIRE

“[Foster’s] glorious new novel, by far his best effort to date, outshining even his memorable debut … This is a wonderful book, hopefully destined for wide readership and endless love.”  — NATIONAL POST

“In Independence, two young children, a boy and a girl, are cared for by their grandmothers as they wait for years for their mothers to send for them. Cecil Foster dresses up the language of the nation, formerly called ‘broken Barbadian,’ but now called ‘nation language.’ Following in the footsteps of Chamoiseau, Foster does for Caribbean English what Chamoiseau did for Creole French.”  — AUSTIN CLARKE, author of The Polished Hoe

“Foster’s story of a West Indies community in transition is a marvelous read, filled with humour, sorrow, and wit, and told with the deft and gentle touch of a master storyteller.”  — THOMAS KING, author of The Inconvenient Indian

“Every sentence of Cecil Foster’s Independence rings with the music of authenticity. His eye for detail and his ear for the rhythms of dialogue are uncanny. There are pages in Independence that deserve repeated visits, so great is the pleasure of encountering characters and scenes described so vividly. Foster’s novel isn’t just about somewhere else. It’s like being there.”  — DAVID MACFARLANE



  • Dry Bone Memories
  • Slammin’ Tar
  • Sleep On, Beloved
  • No Man in the House


  • Where Race Does Not Matter: The New Spirit of Modernity
  • Island Wings: A Memoir
  • A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada
  • Caribana: The Greatest Celebration
  • Distorted Mirror: Canada’s Racist Face
  • They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada

Academic Works

  • Blackness and Modernity: The Colour of Humanity and the Search for Freedom
  • Genuine Multiculturalism: The Tragedy and Comedy of Diversity


He shows the brave characters of West Indian women as no one else has.”  — E. ANNIE PROULX on No Man in the House, 1991

“A moving story, rich in detail, told with great sensitivity and affection.”  — NEW YORK NEWSDAY on No Man in the House, 1991

“A first novel from Barbadian-born Foster, published first in Canada and now making its US debut: one of those rare books that do indeed celebrate indomitable characters and the resilience of the human spirit…. It is Howard and his grandmother who touch the heart with the splendor of their boundless courage. A remarkable debut.”  — KIRKUS REVIEWS on No Man in the House, 1991

“The author of the well-received No Man in the House offers a poignant portrayal of a Jamaican woman’s struggle to build a new life in Canada.”  — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY on Sleep On, Beloved

“Cecil Foster is a wise man with a flair for storytelling and writing that enters the heart. Slammin’ Tar, Foster’s sixth book, is a moving chronicle about the lives of working men. That it preserves the dignity of labour while exposing the sorrow of men is a testament to Foster’s deep respect for his characters…. In Slammin’ Tar, Foster has broken the familiar and made something universal.”  — QUILL AND QUIRE, starred review, 1998



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