Choosing His Coffin


From the author of the Giller Award - winning novel The Polished Hoe comes a new collection of 20 of his best short stories. Choosing His Coffin is a selection of Austin Clarke’s finest work from more than 40 years of storytelling, drawing on his Caribbean roots and his years in Canada. These stories range in theme from growing up in West Indian society and what it means to be black in both the United States and Canada to surviving as an immigrant in a predominantly Anglo-Saxon culture. Clarke has become one of the most respected authors in North America and is one of Canada’s national literary treasures. He is a master of fictional invention.


A novelist of exceptional gifts.

New York Times

All of Clarke's talent comes together: the understated compassion, the sly humour, the seductive language, and the adroit diversions.

Globe and Mail

It is hard to fault Clarke...good novels like his are rare.

Saturday Night

In the quality of the prose, the depth of the humanity, the acuteness of sexual awareness, the importance of the political issues they address and in their social range, Austin Clarke's collected works simply outstrip the oeuvres of the late Timothy Findley or Robertson Davies by a country mile.

Globe and Mail

What makes Choosing His Coffin a wise choice for the discerning reader is a combination of Clarke's masterful storytelling skills, his social awareness, his flowing use of dialogue and his memorable characters, all of whom are drawn with heart and wit.

The Brantford Expositor

Twenty of the finest short stories from Clarke's more than 40 years of storytelling.

The Star Phoenix

[Clarke's] rich, twisted humour grows like a fungus out of the blackened core of human nature, making us smile even as its poison creeps in our blood.

The Hamilton Spectator

...amongst the wide range of his talents — his alternately explosive and razor-sharp facility for dialogue, the joyful musicality of his prose, his deadly sense of satire, his raucous and startling plots, his hilarious characters and caricatures — at the centre of it all is his remarkable feeling for place. He is one of only a handful of writers who captures with perfect mournfulness the hollow grittiness of Toronto's downtown streets.

Quill & Quire

About the Author

Austin Clarke

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Austin Clarke photo

Austin Clarke

Austin Clarke is one of Canada’s foremost authors, whose work includes ten novels, six short-story collections, three memoirs, and two collections of poetry. His novel The Polished Hoe won the 2002 Giller Prize. Clarke is a member of the Order of Canada, holds four honorary doctorates, and has been awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the W.O. Mitchell Prize, and the Casa de las Américas Prize, among others.