Michelle Cliff is generally viewed as one of the most innovative and provocative Caribbean novelists because of her critiques of racism, sexism, homophobia, and class prejudice in Jamaica, the United States, and Great Britain. Cliff was born to a middle-class family of black and white racial background in Jamaica. Although the family moved to New York when the author was three, they later went back to Jamaica. After attending a private school in Jamaica, Cliff returned to the United States to pursue a college education, receiving an A.B. degree from Wagner College in 1969. From 1969 to 1971 Cliff worked as a reporter and a production supervisor for W. W. Norton in New York. Later, Cliff moved to England, earning a master of philosophy degree in Renaissance studies from the University of London in 1974. She returned to the United States, and from 1974 to 1979 was an editor for W. W. Norton in New York. She taught part-time from 1974 to 1976 at the New York School for Social Research and from 1980 to 1981 at Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Cliff taught at Norwich University in 1983-1984, and in 1985 she accepted a position with Vista College in Berkeley, California. In 1990, Cliff began teaching English courses during the spring semesters at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
Cliff’s first book, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise, consists of ten sections of poetry and prose that reflects evidence of the author’s interest in history and identity. Fragmentary and imagistic sections such as “Passing” and “Obsolete Geography” reflect Cliff’s childhood in New York and Jamaica. From 1981 to...
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