A Small Place Hardcover – Jul 1 1988
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From 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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“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--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
who could blame them?
I'm sorry if I come off angry but it really irks me that even those who reviewed the book and are from the carribean would try to make it seem as though the carribean isn't suffering under the effects of globalization....why then are you living in America, Engalnd and Canada? why did your parents seek out other countries and then work for years to bring every family member to theses countries of freedom and oppourtunity...Lets get real....want a wake up call? visit the carribean...really visit it do not stop in the tourist area rather go into the heart where the locals live...Read more ›
Kincaid discusses British colonialism, the corruption of the Antiguan government, racism, and greed. It seems to me a key question raised by the book is whether post-colonial Antigua is worse than colonial Antigua. The book is very much haunted by the spectre of New World slavery.
This book is a dark, angry jeremiad. I think it works better when seen as an extended prose poem rather than as an essay. As the latter, it could be criticized as full of invalid generalizations and undocumented claims. But as a poetic/prophetic text, it is chillingly effective.
Ultimately, Kincaid's vision of the human condition is extremely negative But her haunting, almost hypnotic prose really held me. I recommend the book to anyone planning a trip to a poor country for their own pleasure.
But the first thing that struck me about this book was the tense and voice. Second person (?you do this, you do that.....?) isn?t very common in literature, so when I see it, it has an immediate effect on me. Now, in one sense, I admire the choice of this tense. It allows the narrator to talk directly to the reader, informing him or her. It also gives the narrator some freedom to literally paint a scene in the reader?s mind. Instead of going to all the trouble to create the hundreds of details necessary to allow the reader to place himself or herself in Antigua, Kincaid can accomplish this in one sentence. Granted, she goes on to provide the details (she points out the cars, the roads, the hospital, the beach, the sun, etc.) but as she does this she has some additional room with this tense to comment on these details and actually point out their significance.
Using this tense also lets Kincaid convey her opinion of the typical tourist who comes to Antigua. Using the second person present tense makes the book flow more like a conversation, and as such, allows me to imagine one particular narrator, a very specific person who is telling me this story and painting these pictures in my mind, filling in the details and their significance as we go along. And if I am not a middle class or upper middle class white American who travels to other countries, this works very well. If I am not a middle or upper class Briton, this also works. But if I am, as are many of the people who buy and read contemporary literature, this would put me out a bit. In fact, it would pretty well alienate me to this narrator. Kincaid?Read more ›
As the book progresses, Kincaid switches her attention from "you" to the many questions and mysteries that have plagued Antigua since the British colonized the island to the time it was freed from England rule to how it is now. Kincaid does bring up problem posing questions to introduce many of the situations that occur in Antigua, but then usually proceeds to answer them using her experiences and history of Antigua. One example is the library that is pending repairs since 1974 (page 8,9), she poses questions not only to the reader, but also to herself during the journey. We are taken through a journey with her to find out what it will take to get the library up and running again. Kincaid's "I" makes sure you understand the differences of what "you," the tourist sees from your perspective to how the "I" perceives the tourist.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
an awesome and very clean book! thanks. The item was very well kept as the sender had described even better than I expected. I am really happy with my product.Published on Feb. 6 2012 by sunny
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2005 by Michael Brown
Exceptional, breathtaking. I have never in my entire life witnessed a god-given writing talent like this.Published on June 12 2004 by Beckett
This book is full of hate and racism on Kincaid's part. Would she have no tourists? What brings in the money? She should be a part of the solution not continue the problem.Published on Sept. 24 2003
Unfortunately, I had to buy A Small Place for my University of Michigan class on Latin America. I'm horrified that students and people will believe the West Indies is such a bad... Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2003 by J. Sears
I am a pacifist, liberal, anti-racist, but lord help me if I wasn't a panting colonialist by the time I finished this rant. Hate breeds hate, right? Read morePublished on Dec 17 2002
The book is very simple to read and equally perceptive of the conditions that afflict the people of Antigua. Read morePublished on Sept. 18 2002 by Maureen Mungai
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