An Ugly Tourist in a Beautiful Place

by soniabertelli

Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place isn’t a novel you should judge by its bright coloured cover. When you first take a glance at the book, the illustration, the title and the reviews on the back make you automatically think something completely different than what the book actually is. Kincaid writes about a typical tourist, a beautiful land striving for independence and hardships the country faces. The book is separated into four untitled sections each part has a different story to be told.

In the first section of the book, Kincaid writes how a typical tourist would think and do when they arrive in Antigua. The tourist would see the beauty of the island, the vibrant colours of the land, the blueness of the water but they don’t look beyond the splendor of the island. They miss the reality of the island, the harsh living areas and the struggling people. The second section of the book Kincaid writes about the struggle for independence from Great Britain. Its corrupt present and the colonial past make up the land today. The third section is about the ironies of the Minister of Culture, the suffering education system and the corrupt political system since independence. The fourth section, Kincaid describes the intense physical beauty of Antigua, the breathtaking scenery, the endless blue ocean and the beautiful people of the island.

Kincaid’s opinionated writing and the harsh words directed to the reader made me want to throw this book across the room. Her writing seemed very harsh but she made it up by the end of the book. When she was describing the unseen parts to the typical ‘ugly’ tourist it felt to me that it goes unnoticed to the government. Her words about the ugly tourist made me double think, if I ever go anywhere am I going to be perceived as an ‘ugly’ tourist? The end of the book was by far my favourite. When she was describing the immense beauty of Antigua, the imagery was so vivid the scenery almost jumped out of the pages.

The thing that struck me most about this novel was the use of imagery Kincaid uses. Her choice of diction to describe the beauty that’s almost indescribable to even write about. Her passion in her writing makes the pages come alive. The images almost seem to come alive, it’s almost as if you are there taking in all of this beauty of the island. Her passion for this island is clearly seen in her writing. She is passionate about what she writes and the love of her homeland is indicated in her writing.

I believe that Jamaica Kincaid wants to show others what Antigua really is behind all of its beauty; its corrupt government and poverty stricken land. I would highly recommend this book to other people who enjoy a book full of imagery and who can dismiss the harsh words and direct attack to the reader.



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