Small Place

( 9 )

Overview

A brilliant look at colonialism and its effects in Antigua—by the author of Annie John

"If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see. If you come by aeroplane, you will land at the V. C. Bird International Airport. Vere Cornwall (V. C.) Bird is the Prime Minister of Antigua. You may be the sort of tourist who would wonder why a Prime Minister would want an airport named after him—why not a school, why not a hospital, why not ...

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A Small Place

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Overview

A brilliant look at colonialism and its effects in Antigua—by the author of Annie John

"If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see. If you come by aeroplane, you will land at the V. C. Bird International Airport. Vere Cornwall (V. C.) Bird is the Prime Minister of Antigua. You may be the sort of tourist who would wonder why a Prime Minister would want an airport named after him—why not a school, why not a hospital, why not some great public monument. You are a tourist and you have not yet seen . . ."

So begins Jamaica Kincaid's expansive essay, which shows us what we have not yet seen of the ten-by-twelve-mile island in the British West Indies where she grew up.

Lyrical, sardonic, and forthright by turns, in a Swiftian mode, A Small Place cannot help but amplify our vision of one small place and all that it signifies.

Kincaid introduces readers to the place where she grew up. Antigua is a ten-by-twelve-mile island in the British West Indies. In an expansive essay--lyrical, sardonic, and forthright by turns--she amplifies the vision of one small place and all that it signifies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ms. Kincaid writes with passion and conviction . . . [with] a poet's understanding of how politics and history, private and public events, overlap and blur."— The New York Times

"A jeremiad of great clarity and force that one might have called torrential were the language not so finely controlled."—Salman Rushdie

"A rich and evocative prose that is also both urgent and poetic . . . Kincaid is a witness to what is happening in our West Indian back yards. And I trust her."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Kincaid continues to write with a unique, compelling voice that cannot be found anywhere else. Her small books are worth a pile of thicker—and hollower—ones."—San Francisco Chronicle

"This is truth, beautifully and powerfully stated . . . In truly lyrical language that makes you read aloud, [Kincaid] takes you from the dizzying blue of the Caribbean to the sewage of hotels and clubs where black Antiguans are only allowed to work . . . Truth, wisdom, insight, outrage, and cutting wit."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Wonderful reading . . . Tells more about the Caribbean in 80 pages than all the guidebooks."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

From the Publisher
"Ms. Kincaid writes with passion and conviction . . . [with] a poet's understanding of how politics and history, private and public events, overlap and blur."— The New York Times

"A jeremiad of great clarity and force that one might have called torrential were the language not so finely controlled."—Salman Rushdie

"A rich and evocative prose that is also both urgent and poetic . . . Kincaid is a witness to what is happening in our West Indian back yards. And I trust her."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Kincaid continues to write with a unique, compelling voice that cannot be found anywhere else. Her small books are worth a pile of thicker—and hollower—ones."—San Francisco Chronicle

"This is truth, beautifully and powerfully stated . . . In truly lyrical language that makes you read aloud, [Kincaid] takes you from the dizzying blue of the Caribbean to the sewage of hotels and clubs where black Antiguans are only allowed to work . . . Truth, wisdom, insight, outrage, and cutting wit."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Wonderful reading . . . Tells more about the Caribbean in 80 pages than all the guidebooks."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

Library Journal
Kincaid here examines the geography and history of Antigua, where she was raised. We first see the island through the eyes of the typical North American tourist, who aims to exchange his or her own ``everydayness'' for that of someone without the same privilege. But rather than interpret Antiguan experience for outsiders, Kincaid lays bare the limits of her own understanding. She asks us to grasp the crime of empire in a new way, stressing that it can be understood only from a post-colonial point of view: surveying 20 years of a corrupt ``free'' government, she finds the inheritance of colonialism to be a commercial and governmental enterprise that serves individual interests. Antiguans, she effectively demonstrates, are ordinary people saddled with an unthinkable but unbreachable past. Mollie Brodsky, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374527075
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 44,322
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. Johns, Antigua. Her books include At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, Lucy, The Autobiography of My Mother, and My Brother (all published by FSG). She lives with her family in Vermont.

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Read an Excerpt

If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see. If you come by aeroplane, you will land at the V. C. Bird International Airport. Were Cornwall (V. C.) Bird is the Prime Minister of Antigua. you may be the sort of tourist who would wonder why a Prime Minister would want an airport named after him—why not a school, why not a hospital, why not some great public monument? You are a tourist and you have not yet seen a public monument in Antigua. As your plane descends to land, you might say, What a beautiful island Antigua is—more beautiful than any of the other islands you have seen, and they were very beautiful, in their way, but they were much too green, much too lush with vegetation, which indicated to you, the tourist, that they got quite a bit of rainfall, and rain is the very thing that you, just now, do not want, for you are thinking of the hard and cold and dark and long days you spent working in North America (or, worse, Europe), earning some money so that you could stay in this place (Antigua) where the sun always shines and where the climate is deliciously hot and dry for the four to ten days you are going to be staying there; and since you are on your holiday, since you are a tourist, the thought of what it might be like for someone who had to live day in, day our in a place that suffers constantly from drought, and so has to watch carefully every drop of fresh water used (while at the same time surrounded by a sea and an ocean—the Caribbean Sea on one side, the Atlantic Ocean on the other), must never cross your mind.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2005

    A powerful story

    Small Place is a very simple-written book. With a fascinating setting in Antigua is the story of the extraordinary conditions of the life of the people of Antigua. Jamaica Kincaid's writing portrays not only her bitterness with the legacies of slavery but also her disappointment with the new Antigua, especially the loss of social values and the corruption plaguing the political life and those higher up in society. And she brought it out so succinctly and poignantly that this book clearly articulates the crisis plaguing developing nations, especially Africa that though independent, still have not yet shaken off the negative legacies of colonialism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    This books was a good read and narrated by a very vivacious and

    This books was a good read and narrated by a very vivacious and truthful person. Her opinions are interesting and her explanation of the state of the nation of Antigua is very insightful. It was a very compelling read and is well worth the money. The Nook book is formatted very well and is easy to read.

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  • Posted November 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Eye-opening.

    Jamaica Kincaid knows how to make a strong argument. Her words are poetic, her voice is passionate. There is something truly mesmerizing about this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted November 4, 2009

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    Posted April 8, 2010

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    Posted January 5, 2010

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    Posted April 23, 2011

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    Posted December 9, 2010

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    Posted August 8, 2009

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