Year Of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020; Fred D'Aguilar
- Unit Price
In this piercing and unforgettable memoir, the award-winning poet reflects on a year of turbulence, fear, and hope. For acclaimed British-Guyanese writer Fred D’Aguiar, 2020 was a year of personal and global crisis. The world around him was shattered by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the United States, California burned, and D’Aguiar was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Year of Plagues is an intimate, multifaceted exploration of these seismic events. Combining personal reminiscence and philosophy, D’Aguiar confronts profound questions about the purpose of pursuing a life of writing and teaching in the face of overwhelming upheavals; the imaginative and artistic strategies a writer can bring to bear as his sense of self and community are severely tested; and the quest for strength and solace necessary to help forge a better future. Drawn from two cultural perspectives—his Caribbean upbringing and his American lifestyle—D’Aguiar’s beautiful and challenging memoir is a paean of resistance to despotic authority and life-threatening disease. In his first work of nonfiction, D’Aguiar subverts the traditional memoir with highly charged language that shifts from the lyrical to the quotidian, from the metaphysical to the personal. While his experience could not be darker, its rendering is tinged with light and joy, captured in prose that unfolds in wonderful, unexpected ways. Both tender and ferocious, Year of Plagues is a harrowing yet uplifting genre-bending memoir of existence, protest, and survival.
August 3, 2021
About the Author
Poet, novelist and playwright Fred D'Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents. He lived in Guyana until he was 12, returning to England in 1972.
He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury, graduating in 1985. His first collection of poetry, Mama Dot (1985), was published to much acclaim and established his reputation as one of the finest British poets of his generation. Along with Airy Hall (1989), it won the Guyana Poetry Prize in 1989 and was followed by British Subjects (1993). His first novel, The Longest Memory (1994), tells the story of Whitechapel, a slave on an eighteenth-century Virginia plantation and won both the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. It was adapted for television and televised by Channel 4 in the UK. His long poem 'Sweet Thames' was broadcast as part of the BBC 'Worlds on Film' series in 1992, winning the Commission for Racial Equality Race in the Media Award.
Fred D'Aguiar was Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Cambridge University (1989-90), Visiting Writer at Amherst College, Amherst, MA (1992-4), and was Assistant Professor of English at Bates College, Lewiston, ME (1994-5). More recently he was Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Miami.
His plays include High Life, which was first produced at the Albany Empire in London in 1987, and A Jamaican Airman Foresees His Death, performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1991.
He is also the author of the novels Dear Future (1996), set on a fictional Caribbean island, and Feeding the Ghosts (1997), inspired by a visit D'Aguiar made to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool and based on the true story of a slave who survived being thrown overboard with 132 other men, women and children from a slave ship in the Atlantic.
Recent poetry includes Bill of Rights (1998), a long narrative poem about the Jonestown massacre in Guyana in 1979, and a new long narrative poem, Bloodlines, the story of a black slave and her white lover, published in 2000.
Fred D'Aguiar's fourth novel, Bethany Bettany (2003), is centred on a five-year-old Guyanese girl, Bethany, whose suffering symbolises that of a nation seeking to make itself whole again.