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Legendary Barbadian writer Austin “Tom” Clarke passes away

Noted Barbadian author Austin “Tom” Clarke died today just one month shy of his 82nd birthday.

Clarke, who lived in Canada for more than five decades, passed away at a hospice in Toronto, family sources confirmed.

The author, who was also a lecturer and journalist, served as General Manager of the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation between 1975-1977.



Clarke, who is well known for his works, including Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack and Pig Tails and Breadfruit was the inaugural recipient of The Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his semi-autobiographical novel The Origin of Waves, published in 1997.

His 2002 popular novel The Polished Hoe won the Trillum, Giller and Commonwealth prizes.

In a statement today, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley paid glowing tribute to Clarke, saying the island had not only lost yet another brilliant Bajan voice,” but the Caribbean had lost a great literary icon of the 20th century.

“Tom was not afraid to give voice to what he saw or experienced, but it was always expressed with a rapier – sharp wit. His last work,  Membering , a memoir of sorts (and appropriately entitled for Bajans) carries you on his journey from Barbados to Toronto, from being invisible and angry to mellow and widely acclaimed.

“I got to know Tom well as a young woman in the early 1990s. He helped shape my clear appreciation for the importance of rooting our appreciation for national consciousness as the platform for our development. He never allowed his politics to affect his relationships with people, and certainly not with me. For him, the mission was singular, even if we were on different teams. “

Mottley also described Clarke as a charming but forthright man who had never lost his native tongue or strayed from its linguistic landscape.


11 Responses to Legendary Barbadian writer Austin “Tom” Clarke passes away

  1. Olutoye Walrond June 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    You may wish to re-check your claim regarding Clarke’s stint at CBC, which was no where near 22 years – which is what 1975-1997 would be.

  2. Francis June 26, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    May he RIP
    No way near 22 years at CBC was more like 2 years if so much.

  3. Tony Waterman June 26, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    @Olutoye Walrond, Francis:-Criticism/Corrections are Good things when the are Correct, where did you arrive at 1975-1997, when the writer has CLEARLY Written (At least in the Article that i am reading)
    “”The author, who was also a lecturer and journalist, served as General Manager of the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation between 1975-1977.”” that to me would be somewhat accurate, as that was all that he could bear at CBC.

    Unfortunately, all the Glowing Epitaths that will be forthcoming, would NOT reflect his LONELY Death in that Hospice in Toronto.

    That stint he had at CBC was a clear example of the Treatment that is Meted out to Returning Nationals who came back to Leadership roles in Barbados, you are treated as those who abandoned the Ship and now come back to be Captain, and with him It was NOT Nice, that is Why he only Lasted 2 Years, and did NOT Complete His Contract. So all the Good that will be espoused not that he is Dead will be for Not.

    But i am sure that he was well prepared for his exit, as it a part of all who has ever attended that Hallowed Institution of Learning, as preparation for Death is well installed in all.

    Life and time will not delay
    Time is running fast away
    Life is now – today, today
    Up and on, up and on.

    May Austin “Tom” Clarke Rest in Peace, and rise again someday with the Angels in Glory.

    Up and On

  4. Samud Ali
    Samud Ali June 26, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    I spent a greatly appreciated period of time with Tom Clarke in the company of another great Barbadian, Earl Warner as part of the cast of Earl’s adaptation for the stage of Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack. It was a highlight of my years as an actor and I truly hope as I did then that Growing Up Stupid ends up in our secondary schools as part of our literature studies… It would be one way to honour this man . R.I.P

  5. sarifa June 26, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    If you read article clearly it says 1975-1977 not 1997 check it

  6. sarifa June 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    1997 was when his book was published. Mr. Waldron check your facts first before making an accusation

  7. Ian Bess
    Ian Bess June 27, 2016 at 1:26 am

    R I P

  8. Steve C. June 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I met Mr. Clark in Toronto many years ago. He was articulate and funny.
    There was one occasion where Austin had just returned from Barbados on an Air Canada’s flight and had his “mums’ baked pork” confiscated by Canada Customs .Tom was livid ; He said to me i guess that ……. was going to have a real good meal tonight.
    He then joked about it , saying well that is the law of the land . He was funny . Will surely be missed for his Whit, and wisdom.

  9. Sam Clarke June 27, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Barbados and the literary world have lost one of the most brilliant writers ever to come from the Caribbean.
    Tom set the gold standard, by which authors are judge.
    Rest in peace Tom.

  10. Cheryl Alleyne-Brooks
    Cheryl Alleyne-Brooks June 27, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    RIP, sir


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