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"My mother died at the moment I was born, and so for my whole life there was nothing standing between myself and eternity," writes Jamaica Kincaid in this disturbing, compelling novel set on the island of Dominica. Born to a doomed Carib woman and a Scottish African policeman of increasing swagger and wealth, narrator Xuela spends a lifetime unanchored by family or love. She disdains the web of small and big lies that link others, allowing only pungent, earthy sensuality--a mix of blood and dirt and sex--to move her. Even answering its siren call, though, Xuela never loses sight of the sharp loss that launched her into the world and the doors through which she will take her leave.
Kincaid's third novel (after Annie John) is presented as the mesmerizing, harrowing, richly metaphorical autobiography of 70-year-old Xuela Claudette Richardson. Earthy, intractably antisocial, acridly introspective, morbidly obsessed with history and identity, conquest and colonialism, language and silence, Xuela recounts her life on the island of Dominica in the West Indies. In Kincaid's characteristically lucid, singsong prose, Xuela traces her evolution from a young girl to an old woman while interrogating the mysteries of her hybrid cultural origins and her parents, who failed to be parents: her mother died during childbirth; her often absent father, a cruel and petty island official, cultivates a veneer of respectability ("another skin over his real skin"), rendering him unrecognizable to his daughter. At 14, Xuela undertakes an affair with one of her father's friends, becomes pregnant and aborts the child. Experiencing that trauma as a rebirth ("I was a new person then"), she inaugurates a life of deliberate infertility, eventually becoming the assistant to a European doctor, whom she later marries. Xuela's Dominica, two generations after slavery, is a "false paradise" of reckless fathers and barren matrilinear relations, of tropical ferment, fecundity, witchcraft and slums, whose denizens resemble the walking dead. With aphoristic solemnity at times evocative of Ecclesiastes, Kincaid explores the full paradoxes of this extraordinary story, which, Xuela concludes, is at once the testament of the mother she never knew, of the mother she never allowed herself to be and of the children she refused to have. 75,000 first printing; major ad/ promo; author tour; translation, first serial, dramatic rights: Wylie, Aitken & Stone.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This is my favorite of Jamaica Kincaid's, which of course is saying a lot. It is simply amazing. More complex and involved than her usual writing, it is a "hard" read,... Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2002
Kincaid shows that she's a talented author. THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY MOTHER is beautifully written. It's not about her mother at all, but about the search for knowledge about this... Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2002 by MLPlayfair
If you understand the culture of the Caribbean, then you will certainly understand, and enjoy this book. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2002
When first buying this book I throught it was gonna be about the author's mother. The book is about this girl name Xuela, who's mother died giving birth to her. Read morePublished on June 14 2002 by "July Lady"
This book carries an empowering message that every woman can benefit from about embracing one's femaleness and sexuality. Read morePublished on April 10 2001 by Edythe Johnson-Gallo
This has got to be one of the most depressing books I have ever read. Not depressing in the sense that the tone of the book was depressing (which it was), but depressing in the... Read morePublished on March 23 2000 by Ozlem Ozkaya
I had hoped to read a colorful story about life in the Caribbean, and was not expecting the story to be happy and uplifting. Read morePublished on July 31 1999
This is the story of an unhappy woman who refuses to see or seek out any joy in her life. The overall feeling of the story is negative and depressing.Published on Oct. 8 1998