A State of Interdependence: Caryl Phillips and the Postwar World Order

  • J. Dillon Brown Washington University in St. Louis
Keywords: Phillips, Caryl, Imperialism (United States), Neocolonialism, Postcolonial Criticism, Caribbean Literature (English)


This essay examines Caryl Phillips’s second novel, A State of Independence, suggesting that it is often left out of critical accounts of Phillips’s career not only, as has been assumed, because of its formal simplicity, but also and primarily because of its ambivalent representation of the United States. Considering the novel’s critical reception within the broader patterns of postcolonial literary scholarship, the essay argues for a reading of the book that emphasizes its measured evaluation of U.S. influence in the post-independence landscape. In doing so, it ties the novel’s concerns directly to Phillips’s later work and career, while proposing that his entire oeuvre can be seen to suggest a mode of critique far more attuned to the affective, political, and economic nuances of global U.S. power than is normally encouraged by postcolonial critical paradigms.

Author Biography

J. Dillon Brown, Washington University in St. Louis

J. Dillon Brown is an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where he specializes in Anglophone Caribbean and postcolonial literature. He is the author of Migrant Modernism: Postwar London and the West Indian Novel as well as a variety of articles and reviews.

Caribbean Literature Cluster