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.