He was born in San Fernando, Trinidad, and was educated at Naparima College, wich is in Trinidad. Graduating in 1938 with a Senior Cambridge Certificate, Selvon subsequently equipped himself for his writing career through professional experience and on-the-job training. Between 1945 and 1950, he published a number of short stories, poems, and articles in Caribbean magazines. Between 1950 and 1952 Selvon was a free-lance writer in England, where he became internationally recognized. He moved to Canada in 1978.
Selvon began his international career with his first novel, A Brighter Sun, which is set in Trinidad and explores peasant experience during socio-economic change. .
With the exception of The Lonely Londoner, his novels focus on the everyday experience of islanders in Trinidad. The Lonely Londoner portrays in a humorous manner the experience of the expatriate West Indians in London. .
A sequel to The Lonely Londoner-- .
Moses Ascending (1975) expresses what may be Selvon's most trenchant social criticism, which he communicate through a form of English that combines Trinidad creole English and Standard English. .
Moses Migrating (1983) Moses returns to Trinidad as an ambassador of British cultural pride, providing the reader with many ironic contrasts between colonizer and colonized. .
His major concerns: .
[he employs] Trinidad Creole to 'educate' the English reader, whom he considers to be ignorant of the Caribbean. .
Unlike Naipaul, who portrays his fellow islanders as disadvantaged victims who are rootless, unimportant, and uncreative, Selvon writes with a genuine pride in his people and in their country, despite the social disadvantages and faded dreams that define their world. .
Selvon's career places him in two worlds of colonial and post-colonial experience. His work extends from the period of colonial control by Britain, through the dislocating experience of exile and the disappointing search for synthesis and completeness in Moses Ascending, to the hopeful resumption of the search in Moses Migrating, which combines the ironies and contrasts of failed experience and fantasy.