The 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival is delighted to welcome David Dabydeen.
David Dabydeen is an award winning Guyanese-born broadcaster, novelist, poet and academic. David writes about his native country Guyana and the experiences of colonialism and migration. He makes particular use of Guyanese Creole, a dialect that blends African, French, Spanish, and Indian languages with English and contributes a great deal to the rhythms, rhymes, and emotional power of his work.
At age 18 David read English at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honours and with the English Prize for Creative Writing (the first time the ‘Sir Arthur Quiller Couch Prize’ was awarded, in 1978).
He earned a PhD in 18th-Century Literature and Art at University College London in 1982, and was awarded a research fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford.
His first collection of poems Slave Song (1984) won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. His other works of poetry include Coolie Odyssey (1988) and Turner: New and Selected Poems (1994). In these books of poetry, David evokes the Caribbean experience as a diaspora experience, a movement between India and Guyana, Guyana and England. Travelling back and forth across history, Dabydeen’s poetry manages to vividly capture the casual brutality and sexual violence that was / is part and parcel of the colonial encounter.
His first novel, The Intended (1991), the story of a young Asian student abandoned in London by his father, won the Guyana Prize for Literature.
In 1993 he was elected as Guyanese Ambassador to the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) by the Member States in 1997.
In 2010 through 2015, Dabydeen served as Guyana’s Ambassador to China. He is one of the longest serving diplomats in the history of Guyana, most of his work done in a voluntary unpaid capacity.
In 2000 Dabydeen was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was the third West Indian writer and the only Guyanese writer to be awarded the title.
He was a co-editor of The Oxford Companion to Black British History (2007) described as “a magisterial excavation of black Britain” (The Independent), the volume contains over 400 entries by more than 100 specialist contributors.
In 2007, he was awarded the Hind Rattan (Jewel of India) Award for his outstanding contribution to literature and the intellectual life of the Indian diaspora.
He serves as Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies and Professor of Post-Colonial Literature at Warwick University.