“Oh, but you are on a holiday” (7)

by ideentoudehfallah

The simple design of A Small Place’s cover catches your eye. Your interest is piqued when strong language such as “Lyrical, sardonic and forthright” and “fraught with injustice” are utilized throughout the synopsis. Now you’re hooked; there’s no way you’re putting the piece away. You open the book to the first page and notice the narrator talking about this place you might have never heard of before: Antigua. You decide to Google the name so you can get some background information on the place before you go off reading about it. The first link reads: “Antigua Inclusive Resort”. A couple more links appear about Antigua’s tourist destinations; nothing out of the ordinary. You are unaware of the fact that clever marketing is distracting your mind from the real issues of the nation. Issues you would never know of unless you intentionally looked. Issues such as the 18.3 percent poverty rate that was present in Antigua at the end of 2006, and the Antiguans limited access to only the “leaded gasoline” that is being used to fuel “brand new cars whose engines were built for unleaded gasoline” (6). You pick the book up, a relatively small and light one at that, and see that the content only covers 81 pages. Should be an easy read, you figure, so you decide to take time off of your busy day and sit down to read about this place through the perspective of Jamaica Kincaid, an Antiguan native that masterfully opens your eyes to your ignorant ability to turn “[The Antiguans] own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself” (19); even if it’s only through her writing.

Kincaid makes you the main character of her piece. You are constantly engaged by being told how you interact with the props throughout the book, and how protected you are from the harsh realities of the people enduring everyday life in the nation. Kincaid engages you as a tour guide of her novel, driving you through this “very bad road” (5) of up and down emotions that excite and punish you by intertwining your hypothetical perception as a tourist and the underlying issues in the country.

Kincaid pushes your buttons and forces you to think about past vacations that you’ve taken. How ignorant you were to think that your vacation came to the expense of no one but yourself. As Kincaid describes Antigua, she poses a question about whether Antigua was better under colonist times. You ask why any nation would want to give up their independence until Kincaid describes Antigua’s “corrupt [government]” as “thief[’s]” (41).

A Small Place’s masterful use of persuasion will not only open your eyes to the underlying economic and social issues in Antigua, it will take you on a tour deep through your own conscience; A tour that aims at your own level of ignorance. Kincaid leaves you the choice to put it down and never look at it again, or embrace it for the eye-opening political force it’s designed to be.

498 words (Not counting the bracketed page numbers)

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