"A tourist is an ugly human being," Kincaid states in the first 20 pages of her long essay, and proceeds to elaborate on just why and how. This criticism of "vacation hot spots," the people who participate in the industry, and Antigua's government is so loud and focused. She speaks of England (then North America, then the world)'s bitter colonial hold on a country and the people who may never recover. As an immigrant from a former British colony this piece has haunted me through the years, but I'm not even Kincaid's target audience. Upon the publication of this piece she drew the ire of native Antiguans, government officials, and even critics like Robert Gottlieb. But she didn't care! Slavery and the seeds of its injustice left a stain on the world, and if we're not acknowledging its effects, we're not talking about recovery.
Oh and c'mon, that cover painting (The Charmer) by Robert Högfeldt is so horrifically appropriate it's perfect.— Ikwo
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.
About the Author
Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. John’s, Antigua. Her books include At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, Lucy, The Autobiography of My Mother, My Brother, Mr. Potter, and See Now Then. She teaches at Harvard University and lives in Vermont.
“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