David Dabydeen (born 9 December 1955) is a Guyanese-born critic, writer, novelist and academic. Since 2010 he has been Guyana's ambassador to China.
Dabydeen is the author of novels, collections of poetry and works of non-fiction and criticism, as editor as well as writer. His first book, Slave Song (1984), a collection of poetry, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Quiller-Couch Prize. A further collection, Turner: New and Selected Poems, was published in 1994, and reissued in 2002; the title-poem, Turner is an extended sequence or verse novel responding to a painting by J. M. W. Turner, "Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying – Typhoon coming on" (1840).
His first novel, The Intended (1991), the story of a young Asian student abandoned in London by his father, won the Guyana Prize for Literature. Disappearance (1993) tells the story of a young Guyanese engineer working on the south coast of England who lodges with an elderly woman. The Counting House (1996) is set at the end of the nineteenth century and narrates the experiences of an Indian couple whose hopes of a new life in colonial Guyana end in tragedy. The story explores historical tensions between indentured Indian workers and Guyanese of African descent. His 1999 novel, A Harlot's Progress, is based on a series of pictures painted in 1732 by William Hogarth (who was the subject of Dabydeen's PhD) and develops the story of Hogarth's black slave boy. Through the character of Mungo, Dabydeen challenges traditional cultural representations of the slave. His latest novel, Our Lady of Demerara, was published in 2004.
Dabydeen has been awarded the title of fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is the second West Indian writer (V.S. Naipaul was the first) and the only Guyanese writer to receive the title.
In 2001 Dabydeen wrote and presented The Forgotten Colony, a BBC Radio 4 programme exploring the history of Guyana. His one-hour documentary Painting the People was broadcast by BBC television in 2004.
The Oxford Companion to Black British History, co-edited by Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones, appeared in 2007.
In 2007, Dabydeen was awarded the Hind Rattan (Jewel of India) Award for his outstanding contribution to literature and the intellectual life of the Indian diaspora.
David Dabydeen is the author of books: The Intended, Turner: New and Selected Poems, A Harlot's Progress, Disappearance, Counting House, Slave Song, Johnson's Dictionary, The Oxford Companion to Black British History, India In The Caribbean, Hogarth's Blacks: Images of Blacks in Eighteenth Century English Art