Jamaica Kincaid and Caribbean Double Crossings

Jamaica Kincaid and Caribbean Double Crossings

Jamaica Kincaid and Caribbean Double Crossings

Jamaica Kincaid and Caribbean Double Crossings

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking collection of essays, scholars from the Caribbean and scholars who focus on Caribbean studies take a fresh look at Jamaica Kincaid's recent fiction and non-fiction, focusing on themes in her work that have become part of recent theoretical discourse, from the history of conquest in the Caribbean, to the identity of the post-colonial subject, the effects of imperialism, and the double consciousness of the diasporic writer. Contributors draw upon the theories of Homi Bhabha, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Edouard Glissant to read in exciting new ways texts such as A Small Place (1988), Lucy (1990), The Autobiography of My Mother (1995), My Brother (1997), My Garden (Book): (1999), Mr. Potter (2002), and Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas (2005). Linda Lang-Peralta is Associate Professor of English at The Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Excerpt

Jamaica Kincaid relates a remarkable story about her literary past. Once while she was charged with watching her little brother, she became engrossed in reading a book instead. When her mother returned home and found a soggy diaper, she was furious at the fifteenyear-old Kincaid. Her mother gathered all of Kincaid’s books together, poured kerosene over them, and set them ablaze. In My Brother (1997), Kincaid reflects on this event: “It would not be so strange if I spent the rest of my life trying to bring those books back to my life by writing them again and again until they were perfect, unscathed by fire of any kind…. The source of the books has not died, it only comes alive again and again in different forms and other segments.” Kincaid’s writing draws on that “source” and explores the complexity of identity in various genres.

After a British colonial upbringing on the Caribbean island of Antigua, Kincaid, née Elaine Potter Richardson, left her home in 1966, well before her country gained independence in 1981. Although she now lives in Vermont, she writes frequently and frankly about Caribbean postcolonial issues, most notably in A Small Place (1988). Her work has given her a wide international influence but a troubled reception in the Caribbean, which she often depicts in a negative light. In “A Small Place Writes Back,” Jane King expresses a Caribbean perspective on Kincaid’s work: “Fine, so Kincaid does not like the Caribbean much, finds it dull and boring and would rather live in Vermont. There can really be no difficulty with that, but I do not see why Caribbean people should admire her for denigrating our small place in this destructively angry fashion.” As Moira Ferguson notes, “As an African-Caribbean writer Kincaid speaks to and from the position of the other.” Her characters are often maligned by history and subjected to a foreign culture, while Kincaid herself has become an increasingly mainstream American writer. She has become a prominent voice who conceptualizes Caribbean culture for North Americans not only as a writer for the New . . .

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