Born in 1957 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, André Alexis is the author of many books, including six novels, a short story collection, and a book of nonﬁction. Across all genres, he works in astonishingly clear, supple prose that propels readers through the complex philosophical questions—How does an awareness of mortality shape consciousness? What is the relationship, if any, between love and reason?—that have pre-occupied him through two decades of work. Alexis’s books refashion old forms: his debut novel Childhood (1998) makes use of footnotes, graphs, and lists, while Beauty and Sadness (2010) blends ﬁction and essay. His latest project is a ﬁve-part series of novels that he describes as a “quincunx.” Beginning with Pastoral (2014) and continuing through Fifteen Dogs (2015) and The Hidden Keys (2016), each book has attempted to resuscitate a forgotten or neglected genre: the pastoral, the apologue, the quest narrative. But while his work deals in paradoxes and tropes borrowed from long-dead thinkers, Alexis has time and again proven himself to be a provocative and modern thinker; his work feels ever current, even as it delivers all the humor and warmth of a well-told tale. He has received many honors, including, most recently, the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
My first reaction on receiving an email from Michael Kelleher, the Prize Director, was fear. I hesitated to respond. Then, after I'd looked up the ‘Windham-Campbell Prize’ online, I was afraid there’d been a misunderstanding, that I hadn’t won anything but, maybe, knew the whereabouts of someone who had. I asked Mr. Kelleher if he were ‘certain he’d got the right André Alexis.’ When he assured me he was certain, I passed twenty-four hours of amazement, gratitude, bewilderment, and joy.