A Distant Shore (Vintage International) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
CDN$ 0.17
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by bwbuk_ltd
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your purchase also supports literacy charities.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A Distant Shore Hardcover – Oct 14 2003


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
CDN$ 19.22 CDN$ 0.17

Best Books of 2014
Unruly Places, Alastair Bonnett’s tour of the world’s most unlikely micro-nations, moving villages, secret cities, and no man’s lands, is our #1 pick for 2014. See all

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 14 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041090
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041091
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 15.2 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,100,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Desperate, displaced people populate the latest from award-winning essayist, critic and novelist Phillips (Crossing the River; The Nature of Blood). Dorothy is a divorced retired schoolteacher with a troubled past and an increasingly precarious present, drifting further into depression and mental illness in the small northern England town of Weston where she has gone to flee the death of her sister and a series of reckless love affairs with married men. Solomon, in his early 30s, is a survivor of a war-torn African country, witness to events and atrocities almost too painful to recount, which include the execution of his own family. They meet in a small corner of England, given one last chance at redemption and belonging-this time with one another-before prejudice and brute violence destroy even that. Phillips crafts his novel with great skill, portraying his characters with a faithful eye that reveals their inner beauty as clearly as their defects. A true master of form, he manipulates narrative time (which skips, speeds and sometimes runs backward) and perspective to create a disjointed sense of place that mirrors the tortured, fractured inner lives of his characters. Phillips's vision is of a splintered, fragile world where little seems to have inherent meaning and love is opportunistic and fleeting. As Dorothy reaches her tragic end, she receives a visit from the husband who left her long ago for a younger woman; he himself has now been abandoned. The message of our inherent aloneness is clear. As Dorothy herself says, in a note to one of her married lovers: "Abandonment is a state that is not alien to man." The book expresses an even bleaker view: that abandonment is not only a risk, but our natural condition.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"They do not know who I am," thinks Solomon, an African man living just outside an English village where the local racists make their hatred known. In that lightning-bolt observation, Phillips--an impeccable stylist and astute dramatist of the paradoxical inhumanity of humankind and the sorrows of the African diaspora--cuts to the quick of the conflict between fearful Europeans and tragically displaced African and Asian refugees. Solomon's politeness and restraint mask the traumas of his life as a veteran of a brutal civil war, witness to the massacre of his family, and the survivor of a perilous journey and a treacherous exile. But he has met with kindness as well as savagery in his adopted country, and seeks a bond with his beautiful, decorous, and solitary neighbor. Although Dorothy grew up in the village, she does not share her neighbors' violent prejudice. Forced into a scandalous early retirement, she, too, is plagued by anguished memories of a lifetime of loss and betrayal. Brilliantly realized, these outsiders are rife with ambiguity, heartsick over their fate, but determined to press on. The author of seven extraordinarily elegant and unflinching novels (Crossing the River [1993] was short-listed for the Booker Prize), Phillips is a clarion realist devoted to confronting our capacity for both cruelty and compassion. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong on Dec 12 2003
Format: Hardcover
Caryl Phillips' "A Distant Shore" is a somber but moving tale. I found it quite profound as it traces the lives of two people who never quite connect with each other or the world around them. Dorothy is in her mid-50's and lives in a new development called Stoneleigh outside a smaller city of Weston somewhere north of London. She has been divorced which lead to several affairs such as with married Arab magazine/book seller Mahmood and the separated fellow teacher Geoff Waverly. Neither of these is very satisfying. The affair with the teacher results in Dorothy losing her job and being sent into a forced retirement. We learn of Dorothy's loss of her sister Sheila to cancer plus her sister's lesbian betrayer Maria and Dorothy's guilt about disconnecting from her sister for so many years. Dorothy most connects with the equally isolated Solomon, a black nightwatchman who volunteers to drive the elderly to medical appointments and must endure racial slurs and hate mail. Phillips gives us a good snapshot of the two characters and then delves into the past to show us what brought them to this point. The tale of Solomon who has changed his name from Gabriel in his native African country to escape the savagery that resulted in the massacre of his family and led to a valiant covert escape hinging on bribes, payoffs and danger is probably the most moving section of the tale. To me, equally profound is the descent into madness that Dorothy takes where Phillips gives us clue about all of Dorothy's thought processes and then glimpses of how others outside her view her emotional outbursts that are apparently uncontrolled. The world of "A Distant Shore" is one of outcasts and the lonely. While melancholy, I found it moving and profound. Phillips' sense of rhythm and pacing make the book alternately thunder and meander. Enjoy!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
By A Customer on Jan. 24 2004
Format: Hardcover
Melancholy, regret and loss are the themes of Phillips intuitive, mellifluous, and smooth novel A Distant Shore. The author cuts time with a knife, as we are effortlessly transported backwards and forwards in time throughout the lives of the two main protagonists Dorothy and Solomon. Neither of them shares that much in common, but their disparate journeys of self-discovery parallel in the most unlikely ways.
Both characters are fragile and brittle and spend their lives living in a new housing estate on the outskirts of a rather provincial English village. She's recently bought a new house, and he's recently found a job as a night watchman. He is black and an immigrant from Africa, escaping from a terrible and bloody civil war, and she is a recently retired music teacher who is running from a scandalous affair. Solomon is a former soldier who is escaping the horrors of a war-ravaged African country, he enters England illegally and is forced to undergo many of the trials and tribulations of a man who is sick, tired and worn out. Dorothy is reeling from a dysfunctional childhood, a loveless marriage and a messy divorce. Estranged from her sister Sheila, she is forced to reconnect and care for her sister who is dying of cancer.
Both are lonely, and full of life's disappointments and traumas. Dorothy notices "this lonely man who washes his car with a concentration that suggests a difficult life." And Solomon washes with a intensity "that would appear to be an attempt to erase a past that he no longer wishes to be reminded of." Racism, the perils of illegal immigration, the changing face of British society, the consequences of loneliness and loss are all bought to the forefront with such genuine honesty and compassion.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane Tripoli on Jan. 24 2004
Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately, there's little substance here. Other novels by Phillips are somewhat better.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Somber But Moving Dec 12 2003
By Lee Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Caryl Phillips' "A Distant Shore" is a somber but moving tale. I found it quite profound as it traces the lives of two people who never quite connect with each other or the world around them. Dorothy is in her mid-50's and lives in a new development called Stoneleigh outside a smaller city of Weston somewhere north of London. She has been divorced which lead to several affairs such as with married Arab magazine/book seller Mahmood and the separated fellow teacher Geoff Waverly. Neither of these is very satisfying. The affair with the teacher results in Dorothy losing her job and being sent into a forced retirement. We learn of Dorothy's loss of her sister Sheila to cancer plus her sister's lesbian betrayer Maria and Dorothy's guilt about disconnecting from her sister for so many years. Dorothy most connects with the equally isolated Solomon, a black nightwatchman who volunteers to drive the elderly to medical appointments and must endure racial slurs and hate mail. Phillips gives us a good snapshot of the two characters and then delves into the past to show us what brought them to this point. The tale of Solomon who has changed his name from Gabriel in his native African country to escape the savagery that resulted in the massacre of his family and led to a valiant covert escape hinging on bribes, payoffs and danger is probably the most moving section of the tale. To me, equally profound is the descent into madness that Dorothy takes where Phillips gives us clue about all of Dorothy's thought processes and then glimpses of how others outside her view her emotional outbursts that are apparently uncontrolled. The world of "A Distant Shore" is one of outcasts and the lonely. While melancholy, I found it moving and profound. Phillips' sense of rhythm and pacing make the book alternately thunder and meander. Enjoy!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Alienation and displacement in contemporary England Sept. 18 2004
By Reader from Singapore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"A Distant Shore (ADS)" is Caryl Phillips' beautifully mature and emotionally resonant new novel about life in contemporary England. The story's protagonists, Dorothy and Soloman, can't come from more different backgrounds. She's white, he's black. She's a lonely retired schoolteacher with deep family secrets, including a broken marriage, to haunt her. He's the sole survivor of a family wiped out by ethnic cleansing in an unnamed African country and an illegal immigrant desperate to begin a new life in civilised and democratic England. They are both "outsiders" in their own social context and outsiders recognise if not seek each other out in their subconscious yearning for human contact. Their dim lives brighten up albeit briefly when they intersect before fate rudely steps in to despatch them to their own black holes. Significantly, even their shared loneliness could not bridge the gap in their ethnic and social differences when they tried to connect but sadly failed. Unbeknown to them, they would never get a second chance.

Phillips tells his story backwards with time scale detours in between. The final outcome comes as a shock when it is revealed less than a quarter of our way through. We then backtrack into the past when Soloman was Gabriel and we follow his escape route out of hell into the land of milk and honey. Dorothy, who disappears for much of the middle section, returns in the final third to reveal her own private hell from being repeatedly used and humiliated by men, including a male colleague and an immigrant grocer, who aren't interested in anything but a casual sexual relationship. Her fragile mental state takes a turn for the worse after she arrives a little too late to nurse her estranged and dying lesbian sister and goes into terminal decline when her friendship with Soloman is cruelly ended.

Phillips' narrative technique parallels the novel's theme of alienation and displacement. The early Dorothy sequence suggests she's an unreliable narrator before we finally realise she's indeed in mental decline. The quick cuts as we leap backwards and forwards in time is fused together expertly and seamlessly, so we don't find it confusing.

Blighted by racism and parochialism, Phillips's contemporary England isn't a pretty sight. You may not die from ethnic cleansing in England but all the same, it's a society fraying at the edges from the pressures of new social forces at work. Yet the deep, deep sadness at the heart of ADS is tempered by the realisation that in life, there's always kindness and goodness to be found in the most casual or unlikely of places and persons (eg, Soloman's sponsors from the north have absolute hearts of gold).

"A Distant Shore" is an excellent novel that will appeal to readers who love books that speak of deep and personal truths. Those who enjoyed Clare Morrall's "Astonishing Splashes Of Colours", one of last year's Booker Prize nominees, will also love "A Distant Shore".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
And now a word from the Alienated ... Sept. 4 2004
By Maureen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found this book a fascinating look at 2 people who find themselves unaccepted by society and their dealings with both the external and internal demons. I was very impressed even within the first pages, where the primary character, Dorothy, an aging music teacher who can barely cope with her already extremely limited world of subdivision life. She emerges with her almost monotonic voice, punctuated with her jabs of intolerance of the undisciplined society around her. She is a woman no longer young, of a past with issues with her bigoted family, plagued by loneliness, not able to connect.

The scene shifts astonishingly to the point of view of an African who escapes oppression, from a prison cell, giving the viewpoint of a newcomer to a society where rejection is the norm. The exploration of this oppression, external, contrasts with the self-inflicted oppression of the female character, Dorothy.

Philips is a wonderful writer, unusual in the clarity and the freedom that allows his characters' voices to emerge. Dorothy was presented with complexity and compassion. The story is skillfully woven between past and present, with threads presented in one place explored, seamlessly, from platforms a further level removed in the narrative.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is any life, a retrospective May 6 2005
By Aurora - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The work warmed me, massaged my frontal lobes by the third chapter. I was intrigued by the way the book was drawn, prettier than flashback. The story plays like an accordian, folding in on itself, each part touching the others by the book's end.

The characters develop in hunking displaced quarters that beg the reader to forage her heart for compassion. This is how we live and grow, it says -- one scene at a time, life event by life event.

And haven't we all? Would any of us recognize our 40 year-old selves if our life movie were played for us at 14? Unlikely, but the view from there to here is dramatic, and Phillips has drawn that line back to a distant shore.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Extremely well written but not a picker-upper. Jan. 21 2007
By Paula C. Aird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A remarkable story, superbly told. It started off as a slow moving, melancholy, depressing story about a retired teacher - Dorothy Jones - whose only friend, if you can call him that, is Solomon the black neighbour, who drives her to her doctor's appointments. However, by the end of the story I had to give kudos to the author, who definitely pulled off a masterpiece.

The author is especially great at descriptions and incidentals- the portrayal of some cultural differences as well as sad commentary on the state of womankind as depicted by Dorothy.

Look for similar items by category


Feedback