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Jamaica Kincaid
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Jamaica Kincaid
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Writer, novelist, and professor Jamaica Kincaid skillfully and elegantly tempers the boundary between poetry and prose. Through her books and novels including Annie JohnLucyAt the Bottom of the River and A Small Place, she has carved out a unique and cherished place in the American literary landscape.

Known for her candid and emotionally honest writing, Kincaid’s work attracted the attention of The New Yorker, where she became a staff writerand featured columnist for nine years. Her short stories also appeared in The Paris Review. Fans of Kincaid recognize her distinctive, melodic style with appeal across generations and ethnic boundaries. In 2014, she won the American Book Award, which celebrates multiculturalism and free expression.

Kincaid’s literary “voice” is deeply rooted in her experiences as a child in her native Antigua. Growing up under the colonial rule of England instilled in her a tragic, yet often-ignored perspective. Says Kincaid, “I never give up thinking about the way I came into the world, how my ancestors came from Africa to the West Indies as slaves. I just never forget it. It’s like a big wave that’s still pulsing.” 

Her first book, At the Bottom of the River, won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Her award-winning book, A Small Place, inspired the 2001 documentary, Life and Debt, about the impact globalization can have on a developing country. Her 2005 book, Among Flowers: A Walk In The Himalayas chronicles her adventure into the mountains of Nepal with a group of botanists. Kincaid’s new novel, See Now Then, was published on February 5, 2013. 

The Josephine Olp Weeks Chair and Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College, Kincaid was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. Kincaid began her academic career in 1991 at Harvard University holding joint appointments in the English and African-American Studies departments. She has won the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, Prix Femina Étranger, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Clifton Fadiman Medal.

Full Bio >
  • Jamaica Kincaid Reading and Growing Up Under Colonial Rule
  • 10 Questions for Jamaica Kincaid
  • Commencement Speaker, Grinnell College 2012
  • Kincaid — Anisfield-Wolf/SAGES Lecture (2009)
  • Kincaid at UCR Writers Week
  • Fadiman Medal Presentation
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Speaking Topics
An Evening with Jamaica Kincaid: A Reading
An Evening with Jamaica Kincaid: A Reading

How is a place of respite and solace also a place of disturbance and longing? The garden is a landscape for refuge, yet the “snake was always in the garden,” engendering enormous turmoil. In this lecture Ms. Kincaid will read from The Garden, 1999 and Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas, 2004. She will explore the symbolism and history of the Tree of Life (agriculture) and the Tree of Knowledge (horticulture). Making comparisons from The Garden of Eden, Ms. Kincaid will discuss how seeking pleasure and knowledge led to a fall from grace, contrasting the concepts of exploration and conquest.

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Memoir: The Influence of Memory on Remembering
Coming of Age in A Small Place

The author speaks of growing up female in a colonial society and how these two conditions, one natural, the other its opposite, formed her.

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Landscapes and Memory

The place we are from is often tied up and encoded in our memory… landscapes are complicated, evoking emotions of longing, loss and love. Our connection to ancestors and sense of place is ancient and often lost as history shifts us from place to place. In this lecture, Ms. Kincaid will read from “A Small Place” and “My Brother” and engage in discussion of the importance of our own personal landscapes, history and cultural identity.

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Special Program: Available for mini-residencies
On Writing

Reading and writing are bound together, and engage us with the world and our inner selves all our lives. In this lecture, Ms. Kincaid will read from her piece, “How I Came to Write,” and discuss the discovery of herself as a writer from earliest memories, the first sense of consciousness and how she was “born with an understanding of my own self.” She will explore with the audience the nature of writing from her personal perspective: a rich combination of autobiography, lyrical exploration of soul and powerful assertion of independence.

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Books & Other Works
  • See Now Then: A Novel
  • Lucy
  • A Small Place
  • Best African American Essays: 2009
  • Life and Debt
  • Autobiography of My Mother
  • Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya
  • Mr. Potter
  • Talk Stories
  • My Garden
  • My Brother
  • At the Bottom of the River
  • Annie John
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“She’s an engaging speaker. I always wonder how an audience will respond if an author reads a couple of selections. She was marvelous & the crowd was hanging on every word.”
Toledo-Lucas County Public Library
“Jamaica Kincaid was wonderful...and our students were just delighted to have her here. She got a huge ovation as she went up on stage.”
Wesleyan University
“Jamaica's visit to Bryn Mawr was a shining success - more than 200 people showed up, and they were completely smitten with her reading.”
Bryn Mawr College
“Our event was terrific. Great turnout, enthusiastic audience and Jamaica was great.”
Tufts University
“Jamaica Kincaid was absolutely amazing.”
Festival of the Arts Boca
“The response for Jamaica Kincaid in Atlanta was wonderful! She was a great speaker and the students really enjoyed her class visit.”
Savannah College of Art and Design
“Her regal presence, so understated and quiet, yet so strong, enthralled our audience. She closed with a reading of Girl pitch-perfect, and during that time there was not a breath of literary air any place else in Florida. Quite fine and amazing.”
Rollins College
“An inspiring speaker. Personable, approachable, and gracious, Jamaica Kincaid's lecture and presence on campus was a treat for faculty and students.”
Grand Valley State University, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
“It was absolutely wonderful to have Jamaica Kincaid with us. Her workshop and talk were both a success. I wish she could have stayed longer!”
Christopher Newport University
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