This book offers a timely critique of the work of the Barbadian novelist George Lamming, examining the ways in which his novels exhibit the "luxury of nationalist despair" and exploring the tensions between his strongly voiced anti-colonialism and his ambiguously articulated politics of self. Although stressing the place occupied by Lamming and his work in the context of an anti-colonial first generation of `nation-writing' that has emerged in the formerly colonized world over the past half-century, the study also addresses the novelist's problematic, reductive focus on a nationalist project that is ultimately deeply flawed - in essence, the result of an uneasy relationship between form and thesis. Lamming's continued struggle with the novel as a genre, especially with its ability to get beyond the cultural and political baggage of colonialism, demonstrates the power of one of his most poignant assertions: "the colonial experience [...] is a continuing psychic experience that has to be dealt with long after the actual situation formally `ends'."
Written from a postcolonial perspective, the study draws also on contemporary feminist criticism in order to examine Lamming's characteristically simplistic depiction of female characters in terms of a greater willingness to embody the neocolonial. The book starts by addressing the place Lamming's work occupies both within postcolonial writing at large and specifically within Caribbean literature. Subsequent chapters provide close textual readings of Lamming's six novels, paired in terms of their foregrounding of issues of race, gender and class. Despite a clear shift in Lamming's thematic focus on the rewriting of Caliban's project, with his last novel offering a basis for a re-imagining of the post/colonial encounter, there remains a perturbing inability to relinquish the privileged stance afforded the postcolonial intellectual in self-imposed exile (cultural, much more than geographical). The book represents an important contribution to criticism on the work of one of the most influential voices in postcolonial literature of the last fifty years.