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A Small Place [Paperback]

Jamaica Kincaid
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 15.00
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Book Description

April 28 2000
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.

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Product Description

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IF YOU GO to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see. Read the first page
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Concordance
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
I have read the reviews and I must say that I think that are those who either speak with a guilty conscience, are in denial or just plain ignorant to the realities of life in the carribean. Although Kincaids book is based on the struggles of antigua it would be ideal tolook at Haiti and Jamaica and thier strugles. Jamaica is at war right now and struggling under a 12 Billion debt to the IMF. Farmers cannot Farm Their land and sell in their own market ...produce is imported from Miami. Milk Powder, rather than real milk produced in Jamaica is also imported as is everything else...restructuring policies placed by the IMF that make this so. Unemployement isn't an issue its a way of life. Kids not being able to go past basic school....due to lack of money. What dreams can a woman have? The realities is that if she does not higgle by the side of the road, work as a domestic in the hotels or as a seamstress in the sweat shops then WHAT SHALL BECOME OF HER? mabey if she looks good she can walk the beaches of negril and montego bay offering her body to the swarm of American,German, etc... tourists that are there to have a good time....
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...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Caribbean jeremiad April 9 2003
Format:Paperback
"A Small Place," by Jamaica Kincaid, is a nonfiction prose piece about the Caribbean island of Antigua. The author bio at the beginning of the book notes that the author was born on Antigua. A lean 81 pages, this is nonetheless a powerful text.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating use of tense and voice Feb. 16 2003
Format:Paperback
Like other reviewer, I was little put off by Kincaid's politics.
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?
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1.0 out of 5 stars The selling out of the West Indies Jan. 21 2003
Format:Paperback
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 place from this book. Horrified. Believe me, I was born and lived in Barbados, an island close and similar in attitude to Antigua. Many everyday activities in Barbados that occur in Antigua are turned into Dateline "controversy of the week" issues. People, it's not that serious! What's worse, she doesn't even touch the real issues of the Caribbean. Not to mention, Jamaica Kincaid wrote the account as a longtime resident of the US. She doesn't even sound like a West Indian; she sounds like a pampered, naive North American who believes every nation that doesn't have a McDonald's on every block is third world, to exaggerate. White superiority is the myth this book perpetuates, and the West Indies is once again made out as a "Banana Republic." What's worse, half of the book's claims aren't even true, nor do natives consider them major issues. A warning to North Americans and Westerners alike; take this book with a grain of salt, most of this account is cornball, "what people want to hear" bull. Unfortunately, most people will believe this "tragedy." Please don't. I'm never believing anything Western media says about the rest of the world again.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
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
5.0 out of 5 stars 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. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2005 by Michael Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Spell-binding
Exceptional, breathtaking. I have never in my entire life witnessed a god-given writing talent like this.
Published on June 12 2004 by Beckett
2.0 out of 5 stars Be Part of the Solution
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
1.0 out of 5 stars And we hate you, too
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 more
Published on Dec 17 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Kincaid tells the Antigua's world with passion and truth
Kincaid's Small Place was an eye-opening journey to a small tropical island known as Antigua. The first part of the journey is told to you using "you" as a tourist to Antigua and... Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2002 by Avery
5.0 out of 5 stars A Small Place
The book is very simple to read and equally perceptive of the conditions that afflict the people of Antigua. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2002 by Maureen Mungai
4.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening essay
Jamaica Kincaid writes an essay examining racial relations in her native island Antigua. She is very bitter about how blacks are treated in the Caribbean and rightfully so. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2001 by Algernon Cargill
4.0 out of 5 stars A Small Place Indeed
A remarkable story of a citizen who left and came back. We, the readers experience Antigua through the eyes of native. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2001 by J. Craighead
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