This volume explores the key works of the award-winning Caribbean-American author, Jamaica Kincaid. Originally from St. Johns, Antigua, Kincaid emigrated to America to study, and has published a variety of Caribbean-centered fiction and non-fiction. She explores a number of themes in her work, including colonialism, gender, sexuality, mother-daughter relationships, and racism. Kincaid’s works include See Now Then (2013), Mr. Potter (2002), The Autobiography of My Mother (1996), and Lucy (1990).
The authors in this volume discuss the complexities of some of Jamaica Kincaid’s prolific production of prose. As of 2020, Kincaid has published five novels, a collection of short stories, six nonfiction books, two children’s books, and several pieces of short fiction and nonfiction. Arguably her most famous works are Annie John: A Novel (1985) and Lucy: A Novel (1990), fiction that melds elements of autobiography; a reluctant nostalgia for her family and for the familiarity of Antigua; a critique of colonial rule by Great Britain that entrenched patriarchy into Antiguan culture; and a desire to escape the limitations imposed by British rule. These novels have elicited much scholarly discussion, and some of the essays in this book will showcase their impact on African American letters. As well, the essays in this book will also treat some of Kincaid’s nonfiction, compare her fiction and nonfiction with other authors’ works, and make available some of her interviews.
The volume starts out with an introductory essay by Editor Mildred R. Mickle, followed by an essay discussion of Kincaid’s success as a writer in the 1980s written by Robert C. Evans. Finally, a biographical essay also by Mickle introduces readers to Kincaid’s early life and work. This is followed by four Critical Context essays:
- Jamaica Kincaid in the Constellation of Womanist Literature, by Tahirah Joyce Walker
- Kincaid Speaks: A Series of Interviews and Responses to Audience Questions, by Robert C. Evans
- The Aesthetics of Postcoloniality, Spirituality, and Diaspora: History, Geography, Memory, and Restoration in The Heart of Redness, Mama Day, Praisesong for the Widow, Beloved and “The Disturbances of the Garden,” by Tomeiko Ashford Carter
- Critical Essays on Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John and Lucy, 1985-2017, by Kelley Jeans
Next comes the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- The “Popular” Reception of Jamaica Kincaid’s Writings: 1996-2012, Robert C. Evans
- Jamaica Kincaid’s Reception in The New York Times: 1990-2013, by Robert C. Evans
- Comparing Jamaica Kincaid with Other Caribbean Writers, by Martin Kich
- Jamaica Kincaid’s Talk Stories: Their Own Traits and Their Relevance to Her Fiction, by Robert C. Evans
- An Outsider-Within Cross-Examines White Liberalism in Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy, by Kirstin Ruth Bratt
- Who We Are in What They Say: An Exploration of Identity in Memoir Using Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother, by Abandon GawinWaya Shuman
- An Expansion of Womanist Literature in Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy and The Autobiography of My Mother, by Tahirah Joyce Walker
- Re-Examination of Children’s Literature: Do We Keep Histoire De Babar, or Replace It with Party: A Mystery, by Megan Pitz
- Kincaid’s Resistance to Labels, by Kirstin Ruth Bratt
In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life. A selection of further reading is then provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: Jamaica Kincaid includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Bibliography, biographies of the Editor and Contributors, and alphabetical Index as well as Chronology of Jamaica Kincaid’s Life and Works by Jamaica Kincaid.
The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Jamaica Kincaid provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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