This Thursday, April 4th, Jamaica Kincaid will be visiting UP for a reading and lecture. Kincaid, a native of St. John’s, Antigua, immigrated to America when she was 17 years old. She is known for such works as At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, The Autobiography of My Mother, My Brother, and the book that Dr. Larson’s Contemporary Literature class is currently exploring, Lucy. Kincaid is touring for her latest book—See Now Then—her first novel in ten years. She writes novels that focus on emotions and character development rather than strict chronological plot development, as well as works that deal with real-world issues such as post-colonialism and family relationships.
When interviewed by Jonathan Galassi, Kincaid admitted many things about her writing process and style. For instance, Kincaid confesses that she finds it impossible to write a book “beyond 200 pages,” and wishes she could “write one of those books with so many pages that no one ever finishes the reading of them, but alas, I seem unable to do this.” She also admits that her old writing habit—composing sentences in her head, memorizing them, and only then writing them down on paper—remains her current writing process, but that as she grows older, this process becomes less ideal.
While Kincaid is very willing to discuss her downfalls as an author, she is also willing to take the credit Galassi gives her when he states that See Now Then “is one of the most powerful works of fiction I’ve read in ages,” for the regular events in the story become “profoundly mythologized.” Kincaid acknowledges that she does “tend to want to make a myth of everything,” because myths are made up of “people and events who are not only up and about in their own time but up and about over time, up to the time we are encountering them.” Based on this want and need, Kincaid summarizes writing as “total absorption with the self, not my own self, but a self that I don’t really know, a self that is essential if I am to write.” Thus, by being absorbed with the self, but by universalizing this self, or “mythologizing” it, Kincaid’s stories become just as present now as they were when they were written—or at least that is Kincaid’s hope.
In order to discover Jamaica Kincaid’s works for yourself, come hear her speak this Thursday, April 4th. Kincaid will be attending a Q&A session at 1:20pm in Franz 125, as well as reading segments of her new novel at 7:30pm in BC Aud. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!