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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.
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on 6 May 2003
I would recommend reading this book if you are intending to visit Barbados as I am. It gives you a glimpse of the history behind the people and the way of life during years of social change all through the eyes of a child who doesn't express any opinion but rather simply describes his life and therefore, provokes the opinion and feelings of an adult reader. I found it hard to imagine the racial and class distinctions before reading this book and even harder to imagine how those people felt who were discriminated against or found themselves part of a long line of unfortunates. An educational and interesting read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 September 2014
I didn't find this easy to get into: but once I did, I thought it was beautifully written. An autobiographical novel, covering Lamming's years between nine and eighteen on Barbados, before going out into the wider world.
The whole 'feel' of 1930s/ 40s Barbados is conveyed in various ways - conversations between the locals, interaction with the white landlord (to whom most of the villagers seem to feel a sort of ingrained respect), everyday incidents. Also the amateur philosophizing of the teenage boys, hanging out at the beach.
As life changes, quite drastically, for the village, Lamming portrays the great feeling of nostalgia for things he would never see again.
And a first realization that 'his people' are treated very differently in other countries...
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on 8 December 2013
Shocked to see low average ratings for this book. Lamming's place as a chronicler of the Caribbean reality - and all the more important for looking at Barbados rather than the other Caribbean islands more frequently portrayed in Caribbean literature - is guaranteed by this and his other publications. It is not a holiday novel. It is a a profound analysis of the issues that continue to haunt us in the Caribbean.
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on 26 October 2015
A masterpiece of writing - I am reading all his work now.
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on 17 December 2008
I bought this book for holiday reading as I couldn't find anything else by a Bajan writer and I was visiting Barbados (for the cricket). It was extremely heavy going, with not much plot, and paper thin characters.
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