Writer, novelist, and professor Jamaica Kincaid skillfully and elegantly tempers the boundary between poetry and prose. Through her books and novels including Annie John, Lucy, At 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 attracted the attention of The New Yorker, where she became a staff writer and 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 last novel, See Now Then, was published in 2013.
The Josephine Olp Weeks Chair and Professor of African and African American Studies in Residence at Harvard University, 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.
- 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
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.Read More >
The author speaks of growing up female in a colonial society and how these two conditions, one natural, the other its opposite, formed her.Read More >
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 program Ms. Kincaid will read from The Garden and Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas. 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.Read More >
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.Read More >
See Now Then: A Novel
A Small Place
Best African American Essays: 2009
Life and Debt
Autobiography of My Mother
Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya
At the Bottom of the River
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