Top positive review
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Lilt, Malibu & Coke, Bounty Bars, Sandals Resorts - We need Lamming more than ever.
on 15 March 2009
It is some years since I read `In the Castle of my skin', but on reading the other reviews, feel I should at least say something - or, should we consume Caribbean literature, as we do Caribbean culture in general, and only get as far as the beach?
This is a Caribbean/Modernist novel - a rare thing indeed. I would personally place it alongside Ralph Ellison's `Invisible Man', as a significant meeting between the height of literary form, and black experience. I recall some beautiful, allegorical passages: boys placing coins (with the queens head on), onto train tracks, in order to make improvised knives!!
I can also recall the meaning of the title unfolding as I read: "The Castle of my skin" is more than just an evocation of racial identity in a colonial context; it is also an evocation of the impervious, joyful feelings of childhood - where you feel you know the extent of the whole world, and everything in it. A feeling which comes with its own, inevitable coming of age - and, a feeling which Lamming subtly, extrapolates to the Island of Barbados as a whole.
`The Castle of my skin' is multifaceted, and poetic - some would say dry, and difficult. It all depends on what you look for in your literature.
NB: For people wishing to get under the skin of the contemporary Caribbean, I strongly recommend Jamaica Kincaid's satirical tour guide to Antigua: "A small place" - essential reading, regardless of which Island/s you may visit.