George Lamming

was born in Barbados in 1927. In 1946 he moved to Trinidad where he worked as a teacher. Arriving in England in 1950, he found work one year later on Caribbean Voices, a literary magazine for the BBC’s West Indian service. In 1953 he published his first novel, In the Castle of my Skin, which was given the Somerset Maugham award in 1957. Other fiction includes The Emigrants, Water with Berries and Natives of my Person. He is also the author of a non-fiction work: The Pleasures of Exile.

His work explores the complexity of the West Indian experience in both a fictional London and Caribbean. It scrutinises the effects of immigration, decolonization, national reconstruction and their relation to a people and their society. In covering this huge and complex area, its emotions range from despair to the powerfully hopeful.

The diversity of his writing embraces contradiction, giving it a whole and human feeling. It has been described as demanding, possibly because it provides both intellectual and visceral stimulus.

George Lamming has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, and continues to lecture all over the world.

My generation were in England and had no particular quarrel with not being of it, for the simple reason that we never broke our deepest sentimental links with where we had come from, that the Caribbean remained alive in you in England. And when you speak of ‘home’, that was home, even after thirty or forty years. That remained home, and also carried with it the fantasies of being buried at home. West Indians would tell you the one thing I don’t want is for my bones to be laid here in this place. I can’t be sure of it, but I doubt very much that the young British Black has a comparable sense of home.

Wasafiri No.26 Autumn 1997