The Polished Hoe - Dundurn

The Polished Hoe

20th Anniversary Edition

Published September 2022


A special 20th anniversary edition, with a new foreword by Rinaldo Walcott.

When an elderly woman calls the police to confess to a murder, the result is a shattering all-night vigil bringing together elements of the African diaspora in one epic sweep. Set on the post-colonial West Indian island of Bimshire in 1952, the novel unravels over the course of twenty-four hours but spans the lifetime of one woman and the collective experience of a society informed by slavery.

As the novel opens, Mary Mathilda is giving confession to Sargeant, a police officer she has known all her life. The man she claims to have murdered is Mr. Bellfeels, the village plantation owner for whom she has worked for more than thirty years. Mary has also been Mr. Bellfeels’ mistress for most of that time and is the mother of his only son, Wilberforce, a successful doctor.

What transpires through Mary’s recollections is a deep meditation about the power of memory and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. Infused with Joycean overtones, this is a literary masterpiece that evokes the sensuality of the tropics and the tragic richness of Island culture.

First published in 2002, The Polished Hoe won the Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the Trillium Book Award.



Austin Clarke

Austin Clarke (1934-2016) was 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. A member of the Order of Canada, Clarke was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the W.O. Mitchell Prize, and the Casa de las Américas Prize, among others. In his fifty-year career, he worked as a journalist, a professor, and a cultural attaché in Washington D.C., while publishing acclaimed fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.


Rinaldo Walcott

Rinaldo Wayne Walcott, the foreword writer for the 20th-anniversary edition of The Polished Hoe, is a Canadian academic and writer whose work focuses on Black studies, Canadian studies, cultural studies, queer theory, gender studies, and diaspora studies. He is an associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. He is also affiliated with the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. He was formerly an assistant professor at York University and from 2002 to 2007, Walcott was the Canada Research Chair of Social Justice and Cultural Studies. He is the author of several books, including Black Like Who.

Book Details

September 2022
5.5x8.5 in
512 pp
September 2022
512 pp
September 2022
512 pp