John Plotz at Public Books:
The epigraph to In the Castle of My Skin (“Something startles where I thought I was safe”) comes from Walt Whitman. Lamming takes heart from Whitman’s embrace of the sometimes paradoxical multiplicity that comes with giving one another room, with hearing and assimilating others’ viewpoints: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes).” There is even a subtle lesson in the names of Lamming’s first and last novels. As phrases, both In the Castle of My Skin and Natives of My Person allude to the complex interior state of the speaker. Both configure that interior as a populous place, shot through with other voices, other lives.
Natives of My Person, a torqued retelling of the post-Columbus era of European exploration and land grabs, concludes with a poignant scene between the wives of characters who have staked their lives on a mad venture westward.