The Classics Club gods have finished spinning their wheel with the result that I am to read book number 13 from the list I put together earlier this month.
This means I am to read one of the most recent additions to my classics club list — In the Castle of My Skin by George Lamming. I hadn’t heard of the author or his book before it appeared on the Queen’s Jubilee Reading List in 2022. This is a list of 70 books by authors from across the Commonwealth, 10 books for each decade of the late Queen’s reign.
In The Castle of My Skin is the first novel by Barbadian author George Lamming. It’s a semi autobiographical novel set in the 1930s/40s village in Barbados, following a young boy who grows up against a background of dramatic changes in his society. Lamming said he wanted to reconstruct the world of his childhood and early adolescence while also reflecting on the legacy of colonialism and slavery in the Caribbean.
Published in 1953, the novel won a Somerset Maugham Award and was praised highly by Jean-Paul Sartre and the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. The organisers of the Jubilee Reading List described it as “Lyrical and unsettling ………. a story of tragic innocence amid the collapse of colonial rule.”
Lamming left Barbados when he was 19 years old to work as a teacher in Trinidad. He then moved to London where he worked for a time in a factory before joining the BBC Colonial Service as a broadcaster. In later years he entered academia with posts in Jamaica, USA, Australia and Tanzania. He died in Bridgetown, Barbados in June 2022, just a few months after learning that his novel had been selected for the Jubilee reading list.
According to the “rules” of the Classic Club I’m supposed to read this book by 6 August 2023. It will be the first time I’ll have read a book by an author from Barbados.