A Small Place, A Lot To Say

by Amy Nguyen

Jamaica Kincaid (born Elaine Potter Richardson) captivates the reader’s attention with this provocative and witty memoir: “A Small Place”. She writes from first hand experience about her home of Antigua: the nine by twelve island which was formerly a British Colony. Kincaid explores the tough issues of her nation like government, corruption and economy yet her clever writing style manipulates the reader, giving a false first impression of this quirky essay. Unbeknownst to the reader, it’s only going to get deeper from here.

We are addressed to as “you, the tourist” quite frequently throughout the first section of the book. The style she writes in is like a traveler’s guide: “you are now, passing by the Prime Minister’s Office” (10). Usually, one wouldn’t like to be called a tourist, but with “A Small Place”, it’s interactive and the reader feels like they get to play a character in the story. The symbolism of the tourist is cleverly used to advert our attention, like how tourists come, look, and leave, the splendid imagery and Kincaid’s humorous tone engrosses the reader and overlooks the subtle hints and comments Kincaid is making about actual life in Antigua. Later on, we get to the root of all the observations Kincaid makes in the beginning. This unique approach to exploring issues makes the reader willingly learn even though they might not know it at the moment.

“A Small Place” could have easily been a depressing documentary, but with Kincaid’s inventive writing style and approach to the issues, it was a pleasant read without the bitter aftertaste.

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