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Joan Riley

Joan Riley is a novelist. Born in St. Mary, Jamaica, in 1958, as the youngest of a working class family of eight children, she emigrated to the UK in 1976. She studied social work at the University of Sussex and the University of London. She was a student working in children’s homes when she began to write. When The Woman’s Press published her novel The Unbelonging (1985), she became the first African-Caribbean woman to focus on the lives of Blacks in England. Three further novels appeared in quick succession, Waiting in the Twilight (1987), Romance (1988), and A Kindness to the Children (1992). Like Riley’s debut novel, they chronicle the lives of black Caribbean immigrant women in Britain.


Anim-Addo, Joan. “Windrush Children and Broken Attachments.” Separation & Reunion Forum and Goldsmiths College Joint Conference. 23 June 2000. Presentation.

Beyer, Charlotte. “Representations of Ageing and Black British Identity in Andrea Levy’s Every Light in the House Burnin’ and Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight.” Andrea Levy, spec. issue of Entertext 9, 2012, pp. 105-121.

Carlson, Lisa Marie. “Affective Metamorphoses: Formations of Community in the Black British Female Bildungsroman.” Muncie, Indiana: Ball State University, 2012.

Corhay-Ledent, Bénédicte. “Between Conflicting Worlds: Female Exiles in Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark and Joan Riley’s The Unbelonging.” Crisis and Creativity in the New Literatures in English, edited by  Geoffry Davis, Rodopi, 1990, pp. 499-510.

Davis, Andrea. "Unbelonging in Diasporic Cities: a Literary History of Caribbean Women in London and Toronto." Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, no. 13, 2019, pp.17-50.

Down, Lorna. “Navigating the Web of Place: Trapped Identities in Donna Heman’s River Woman.” Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, 2004. Accessed 1 Oct. 2013.

Ellis, David. “‘Wives and Workers': The Novels of Joan Riley.” Contemporary British Women Writers, edited by Emma Parker, Brewer, 2004, pp. 68-84.

Ellis, David. Writing Home: Black Writing in Britain since the War. Ibidem Verlag, 2007.

Fischer, Susan Alice. “Women Writers, Global Migration, and the City: Joan Riley's Waiting in the Twilight and Hanan Al-Shaykh's Only in London.” Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, vol. 23, no. 1, 2004, 107-120.

Hawkes, Bernadette E. “The Unbelonging by Joan Riley.” Separation & Reunion Forum and Goldsmiths College Joint Conference. 23 June 2000. Workshop Presentation.

Ledent, Bénédicte. “A New Wor(l)d Order: Language in the Fiction of the New Caribbean Diaspora.” New Literatures in English. Spec. issue of Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, no. 16, 2003.

Perry, Barbara Shaw. “Cultural Identity, ‘Resistance’, and Women’s Postcolonial Writing form the African-Caribbean/British Borderlands: Joan Riley’s The Unbelonging.” The Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference Papers. Vol. 1, 2000. Accessed 1 Oct. 2013.

Plummer, Patricia. “Joan Riley.” Twenty-First-Century “Black” British Writers, editec by Victoria R. Arana, Gale, 2009. Dictionary of Literary Biography 347.

Rountree, Wendy. “Joan Riley.” The Literary Encyclopedia, 8 Feb. 2005. Accessed 1 October 2013.

Riley, Joan. The Unbelonging. The Women’s Press, 1985.

—. Waiting in the Twilight. The Women’s Press, 1987.

—. Romance. The Women’s Press, 1988.

—. A Kindness to the Children. The Women’s Press, 1992.

Scafe, Suzanne. “Unsettling the Centre: Black British Fiction.” The History of British Women Writers. Vol. X, edited by Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2015, pp.  214-228.

Wambu, Onyekachi. “Black British Literature since Windrush.” BBC. 3 March 2013. Web. 1 October 2013.

White, Paul. “Geography, Literature and Migration.” Writing Across Worlds: Literature and Migration, edited by Russel King, John Connell and Paul White. New York: Routledge, 1995. pp. 1-19.