A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

A Small Place is a medium-longform essay (81 pages), published here in book form, about Kincaid’s home island of Antigua. Kincaid uses a second-person address to a “you” that stands in for North American or European white people, the unpleasant tourists and descendants of colonialists she observes visiting Antigua. On the surface she is concerned with place–what is Antigua–but the essay is equally concerned with race, empire, and history, and unafraid of long parenthetical asides. I was assigned to read this for its help with writing about place, and so for me the final four-page section describing Antigua as physical place is perhaps most interesting, from a craft standpoint. (Or perhaps I should reconsider what it means that this physical description is the part that seems most place-based to me. What defines a place? Its physicality, or its people and its history?)

It’s also remarkable for Kincaid’s strong, strident voice, and for those long parentheticals. It should go without saying that A Small Place makes a fine introduction to Antigua itself, too.

Rating: 7 brand-new Japanese-made vehicles.

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