Information about the author.
Jamaica Kincaid’s new novel is the haunting, deeply charged story of a woman’s life on the island of Dominica. Xuela Claudette Richardson, daughter of a Carib mother and a half-Scottish, half-African father, was delivered to his laundress as an infant, bundled up like his clothes. The Autobiography of My Mother is a story of love, fear, loss, and the forging of a character, an account of one woman’s inexorable evolution evoked in startling and magical poetry.
Jamaica Kincaid’s incantatory, poetic, and often shockingly frank recounting of her brother Devon Drew’s life is also the story of her family on the island of Antigua, a constellation centered on the powerful, sometimes threatening figure of the writer’s mother. Kincaid’s unblinking record of a life that ed too early speaks volumes about the difficult truths at the heart of all families.
Annie John is a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua. A classic coming-of-age story in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Kincaid’s novel focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme: the loss of childhood. Annie’s voice—urgent, demanding to be heard—is one that will not soon be forgotten by readers.
An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life. She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence, who is the very center of the little girl’s existence. Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother’s benign shadow. Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, “It was in such a paradise that I lived.” When she turns twelve, however, Annie’s life changes, in ways that are often mysterious to her. She begins to question the cultural assumptions…[more]
Reading Jamaica Kincaid is to plunge, gently, into another way of seeing both the physical world and its elusive inhabitants. Her voice is, by turns, naively whimsical and biblical in its assurance, and it speaks of what is partially remembered partly divined. The memories often concern a childhood in the Caribbean—family, manners, and landscape—as distilled and transformed by Kincaid’s special style and vision.
Kincaid leads her readers to consider, as if for the first time, the powerful ties between mother and child; the beauty and destructiveness of nature; the gulf between the masculine and the feminine; the significance of familiar things—a house, a cup, a pen. Transfiguring our human form and our surroundings—shedding skin, darkening an afternoon, painting a perfect place—these stories tell us something we didn’t know, in a way we hadn’t expected.