THE EMIGRANTS by George Lamming

THE EMIGRANTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

George Lamming's successor to In the Castle of My Skin concerns itself with a group of emigrants traveling from the West Indies to England in search of a ""better break"". On shipboard, cast adrift from their home anchorage, they look to England with varying degrees of grim hope and sureness- there is no place else to try. In London, their life at the hostel holds them together for a time, and later as they experience, one by one, their disillusionment and self-realization in their own way, their paths crisscross in a labyrinth of entwining incident. Among the group are Collis, a writer who protectively loses a sense of differentiation; Dickson, an increasingly paranoid school teacher whose fears become fact; Higgins, who is left defenceless when his proposed ambition to be a cook is denied; the down-to-earth Tornado and his woman Lilian, who so far from home achieve a sense of reality -- conjugal love and everyday living on the islands; the provocative Queenie, who dies at the hand of Ursula Bis, who needs to express herself in a free action; Ursula who has run from Trinidad where a calypso has immortalized her affair with a white man who deserted her; the Governeur, a man of weight and affairs who sets up a club with the African doctor Azi; Phillip, the young student whom Azi befriends; the Strange Man who haunts the Governeur's undertakings and successes and who provides the final irony in accepting the offered friendship of the Governeur and turning up with the Governeur's ex-wife. There is much that is individual here -- the evoking of mood, the power in presenting characters separately in a group; there is also much evidence of Joycean and Existentialist fraternity which may eventually merge into the author's thought and style less obtrusively. Perhaps the ambiguity which filters through the book is necessary to the sense of groping, almost a wooziness, which encircles the reader. A book of serious intent.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1955
ISBN: 0472064703
Publisher: McGraw-Hill