Posts tagged ‘Jamaica Kincaid’

March 14, 2011

For You Are a Tourist

by Parmis

A Small Place written by Jamaica Kincaid is an extensive essay which explores the history of an island unknown to many. As the title suggests, Antigua is a rather small island. It is situated in the West Indies and it’s population is just over 85,000. Antigua’s economy is based almost entirely upon tourism from North America. We North American’s specifically are known as “Tourists to the World” and before this book, I do not believe many of us considered this to be a bad thing.

Published in 1988, A Small Place provides a short and witty approach to a classical theme. As an immigrant herself, Kincaid provides a local historical perspective on Antigua which goes past that of factual evidence. This book is divided into four parts. The first shows the island of Antigua from the perspective of a tourist, an outsider. Just as first settlers onto a new island, we are new settlers into this book. Kincaid recognizes this, and provides an abundance of imagery as we embark on our journey of Antigua. As the book proceeds, instead of exploring Antigua through the triumphs of the island, we explore its very dark history of colonialism, slavery and corruption.

Kincaid is extremely aware of her audience, making this book an extremely interesting read. She is aware we are tackling this book from a North American mindset and plays to our strength and knowledge. North Americans are considered nosy, and as such Kincaid guides our thought process to exactly when one witnesses a new and unfamiliar society: “You look closely at the car; you see that it’s a model of a Japanese car that you might hesitate to buy; it’s a model that’s very expensive …” (7).

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March 14, 2011

Are you considered a gullible Tourist? Or an experienced World Traveler?

by jsimak

Antigua, an island nine miles wide by twelve miles long, a beautiful island, an island whose beauty seems unreal, a place that one would want to consider visiting to escape the cramped concrete walls of a city. Antigua, whose natives that inhabit the island cannot stand a tourist from America, or worse, Europe.

The island of Antigua, a place one would give a second thought to visiting after reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place.  This short eighty-four page mixed narrative expresses not only Kincaid’s view of Antigua from her personal point of view, but also through a brief second person narrative; similar to a travel editorial guiding the reader through the sights and experiences as they step off the plane into Antigua and set off into the city.

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March 13, 2011

Ignorant Tourists Only See Beauty

by kristiemendoza

Jamaica Kincaid’s, A Small Place, is an extensive piece of non-fiction literature written in the form of an essay. She writes about her home in Antigua and gives a very expressive view of the relationship between the native Antiguan and a tourist: “A tourist is an ugly human-being” (14).

The opening to the book is filled with candour and poignancy. She puts into account of all the “beauty” the tourist sees; yet, for the natives who live there and work for the industries, poverty is the only thing that is seen. After gaining back their freedom from their colonizer, their cities and infrastructure collapsed. This story is being told of post imperialism and of a people’s nation to be independent and free from those who held them captive as slaves. The society of Antigua is corrupted of big industries that prevent their culture and identity from being successful.

Kincaid’s elaborate essay is pressing and filled with such lyrical flow. Her descriptive writing makes the readers feel as if they are in the Caribbean Island. The reader is taken on a tour to various places, such as the Caribbean Sea, the Holberton Hospital, and the Government House. The reader is like the tourist and is too blind to see the people in Antigua struggle through the hardships in their lives.

Truth and anger is exposed through Kincaid’s persuasive and emotional words to raise awareness. Her piece of writing is beautiful and should not be put down until it is finished. This is for anyone that is interested in hearing a unique perspective on the effect of the European empire on the natives of Antigua.

Word Count: 272

March 13, 2011

One Informative Thorn of a Book

by alexguerrero92

I hate being the tourist. I hate being called a tourist, even when visiting foreign countries. And I know I’m not alone on this, especially after having to endure a barrage of ego-bruising insults on the very first chapter of Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place. How bad is it? Well, let’s put it this way. Unless you enjoy being repeatedly referred to as “you, the tourist”, you probably won’t be too pleased. It may seem a little harsh and critical, but only in the end will you truly understand what message Jamaica is trying to convey. However guilt-tripping that message may be.

It’s no use getting angry at books. Arguing with them will only make you look crazy. Yet, one can’t help but give off a few “Excuse me?”s and “Well, I say! That was highly unnecessary!”s. I won’t blame you. Virtually, the entire first chapter is about drawing you, the reader (see what I did there?), out of your comfort zone and into a boiling pot of water. In this case, putting you into the shoes of a pasty-faced portly sub-species of human called “the tourist”, and shunning you on your travels through poverty-stricken Antigua. Don’t like it? Well, suck it up, princess! You’re being shunned for a reason! For outside those fancy hotel resort walls is an entire country victimized by the negligence of its corrupt government; its people so poor, they can only dream about going on any sort of vacation. But that’s only the first chapter. The rest speaks of the plight of the people, shedding some light onto a world that seriously differs from ours. The book isn’t easy to digest, especially if you’ve gone on a fancy vacation to a resort in a country like Antigua. How can you even consider going to Antigua after being exposed to the hardships the people suffer through day by day? But the book in a whole isn’t a pain to read. In fact, it contains brilliant imagery and colour as well as a style sure to dig deep into your very soul, burning into you a kind of realization and appreciation for your own way of life.

A Small Place is like a plane ride. Throughout the flight you get nauseating turbulence, bland food, and cranky flight attendants, but only in the end when you land will it all be worth it. It isn’t necessarily an agreeable book, and will most likely have you shaking your head than nodding, but all of it is done for a reason. The “shock and awe” approach is clearly effective, and Jamaica displays a lack of reluctance when pushing the boundaries. Like the ghost of Christmas future, it shows you the unpleasant things in order to change your perception of the world, and can possibly change your actions. I recommend this book to young adults and anyone planning on travelling to an exotic country.

496 words

March 13, 2011

A Small Place with a Big Message

by blairesmith

Through A Small Place, a poetic 81-page memoir, Jamaica Kincaid announces her strong opinions of tourism, corruption, and racism. Often, her stance on an issue is so strong that the reader feels no other option but to agree with her. Kincaid’s passion for her birthplace of Antigua is very apparent through her descriptions of suffering such as, “They are too poor to escape the reality of their lives” (19). It is Kincaid’s passion that makes the book such a thought-provoking read.

The setting of the book is Antigua, Kincaid’s birthplace, a former British colony that gained independence in 1981. The author does not hesitate to blame British colonization and other developed countries for the problems occurring in Antigua today. She makes her feelings about some areas in particular very clear, “North America (or, worse, Europe)” (4). She goes on to refer to tourists from these countries as, “An ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that” (17). She blames colonization and tourists for much of the hardship Antigua faces. Whether or not this is true is debatable, but either way Kincaid does call some serious issues into play. One of the first introduced is water shortage, “What it might be like for someone who had to live day in, day out in a place that suffers constantly from drought, and so has to watch
carefully every drop of fresh water used” (4). Another is medical care, “If any one of the ministers in government needs medical care he flies to New York to get it” (8).

These issues are legitimate, but how the book is viewed will affect the messages that the reader takes away with them. If the book is looked upon as poetic and not as a series of essays Kincaid’s messages become much more effective. As a poem the book generates strong emotions. Readers may feel insulted with Kincaid’s accusations of tourists, or possibly feel sympathetic for the people of Antigua. Depending on the values of the reader, different feelings will occur, but an emotional reaction is guaranteed. If, on the other hand, the chapters are looked at as essays the reader will be greatly disappointed. Fallacies fill the pages, but one committed quite often is broad generalization. For example, Kincaid suggests that all tourists are alike by saying, “There must have been some good people among you, but they stayed home” (35).

Through A Small Place, Kincaid’s goal is to create awareness of the hardships such as slavery and corruption that Antiguan society has faced. Due to her passion, I believe she succeeds in this and does more. It would not be surprising if readers felt an obligation to avoid visiting Antigua as a destination spot, which Kincaid would be very happy about. Tourism in itself is not a bad thing, but I think the world needs more books like A Small Place to lift the curtain off the “behind the scenes” of a country. The book also sends a great message of what should really be important to us. Should we, as middle/upper class, be thinking about our beach holiday or the injustice, poverty, and corruption that developing nations face on a daily basis?

Word Count: 535

Works Cited

Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1988. Print.

March 9, 2011

Who Are You?

by pavinrakhra

     Jamaica Kincaid, an Antiguan native, writes this short, powerful and eye opening book which will catch many readers after the first line. The vivid, corrupt and intriguing language set out early in the book is very capturing for the majority of readers.  A Small Place can draw in readers for many reasons, but there were primarily two reasons for me. The first reason was that A Small Place is a slim and exciting read which was done in one sitting. The second and main reason was that Kincaid directs the book to YOU as the reader forcing you to think deeply and question yourself. Kincaid brings forth this book centrally based on colonialism and tourism showing how she suffered going through difficult times and how others deal with tourism. The book is structured into four sections each portraying different issues and information which can be offensive and rude to some readers as the book is very one sided and degrades tourists. The common and strong use of “you” is what makes this book a must read; especially if one travels a lot. It gives the reader a new perspective on how some locals view tourists; views which may have never been thought of before. Kincaid makes it obvious that most tourists are looked at differently and are laughed at by some locals. Antiguans for example, are illustrated to show hate and disgust towards tourists and see them “as a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that.”This is because Antiguans themselves cannot “go away” on vacation like the tourists they see and escape their own reality. Kincaid’s strong, creative, but honest writing shows the truth on how locals feel towards tourism. This is possible because Kincaid is an Antiguan native who can share from her own past experience of colonialism and tourism. In general, A Small Place brings awareness of tourism and colonialism to each and every reader who picks up this book. It is a definite eye opener to many unseen perspectives and views which will cause you to think next time you’re on vacation among the natives.

March 9, 2011

Let the Finger Pointing Begin

by deenaliguori

If you are the typical tourist who goes to foreign countries and like to enjoy yourself by exploring other cultures then A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid is the book for you. Kincaid is an Antiguan native who expresses her views of Antigua to the average tourist.  Kincaid was born in Antigua and moved to the United States at the age of 16. At times she is abrupt and in your face and questions your thoughts as a traveler. This book will have you second guessing yourself and what you truly do not think nor see when you are too busy vacationing. Kincaid also writes in depth about the Antigua she knew growing up and what really lies behind the spectacular beauty of the small island. Through Kincaid’s opinions and thoughts of the Antigua she knew and what it has become she gets you thinking about the life you live and how lucky you are.

One of the first things you notice when you open the book and begin to read is that the book is divided into four parts. What may be confusing for some reader is that the “chapters” have no titles, but simply faint black and white pictures of Antigua. I found this unique as it was something I have never seen done before. Kincaid’s imagery for example when she speaks about the clear blue ocean or the vast countryside is truly impressive. When reading I even looked up Antigua on the computer. It seemed so beautiful and too good to be true that I had to see an actual photo to believe it. The tone in this book is like no other. Throughout this book you will find yourself stopping and thinking about what Kincaid describes. The way Kincaid attacks you through this book is a bit much but she does manage to get her points across well. In this book you will feel like the finger is always being pointed at you and you are always wrong, which can be a bit frustrating at times.  Like when Kincaid brings up the point that all tourists are ugly, let’s face it who is she to say that? This book not only gives you an in depth look at Antigua but questions you in ways you never truly would as a tourist.

I felt at times it was hard to continue reading when Kincaid was expressing her views, and being hypocritical. She came off as too strong, and I felt she could have expressed her thoughts in a different softer tone than always making us, the average tourist feel like such a bad people. I do feel Kincaid has many true facts about tourists and how oblivious they can be to the realities of its people. Maybe if she went about writing her book in a different way rather than always making us the reader feel at fault then maybe this would have been a great book to recommend.





March 9, 2011

A Reality Check

by aliwhitee

Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place examines the history of Antigua through the eyes of someone who has lived through and experienced the oppression and frustrations felt by many Antiguans. Her raw and harsh portrayal of the contrast between the tourists and the locals places a feeling of guilt within the reader, who has more than likely been a tourist themselves. Kincaid opens the book with an emotion-evoking chapter on the view of the native Antiguan to the tourist, who she narrows down to mostly white Europeans or Americans. Her direct and potent insults illustrate her hatred towards tourists, referring to them as, “An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, and ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that…” (17). Kincaid then goes on to show her detestation for Britain who was responsible for the colonization of Antigua, and her bitterness with the legacies of slavery that took place on this small island. She directly blames the British for the complete devastation of her country and asserts that, “no natural disaster imaginable could equal the harm that they did.” (23-24)

Kincaid’s writing portrays her disappointment with the new, “free” Antigua, especially the loss of social values and the corruption that plagued the government and those higher up in society. She also references the library several times in the book, which was damaged in the 1974 earthquake, to demonstrate Antigua’s problems, repairs to which are also “pending.” (42) Although the library was a British colonial building, Kincaid refers to it with a sentimental view, plaintive about the loss of books and location of the building. Overall, Kincaid’s opinionated writing outlines Antigua’s destroyed culture and society; the few rich Antiguans on the island will not fund reparations of the old library, and therefore will not aid in the repair of the nation as whole. A Small Place is a very simple-written book, but has a lasting impact on the reader that is somewhat of a reality check. With such a beautiful setting, tourists are often led to believe a place like Antigua is paradise. This book articulates the crisis plaguing many developing nations that although independent, still have not yet shaken off the negative legacies of colonialism. Although Antigua is a small pace, as referred to several times, huge events with life-changing impacts on its citizens have occurred. Moreover, this is a highly recommendable read to all who want their eyes opened to the realities of the world’s suffering nations.




March 9, 2011

A Small Book With A Big Voice.

by karmill

The book, A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, is difficult to categorize as a single genre. It could be considered an autobiography, yet could also be considered as History, Political, Travel, Opinion or general Non-Fiction. The book is an expression of the author’s opinions about her experiences as a child growing up on the British colonized island of Antigua, and her views on tourism, government, slavery, racism and unions. Throughout the text, Kincaid expresses her anger that, through no fault of its own, Antigua is no longer what it once was. She states that this is due to many factors, and discusses the Antigua that she knew as a child is not as it was because the ones who ran it, the British as colonizers, no longer run it. She also stresses that prior to her history, Antigua was affected by the European slave trade, the white man’s education system which ignored local custom, history and culture and taught only all things British.
Kincaid uses second person narrative in this book, which makes her statements and comments very direct and blunt to the reader. From the beginning, she uses the word you to address the reader, and begins as if one was a tourist arriving in Antigua. The narrative takes you, the tourist, from the plane through the town to the hotel, all the while projecting her opinions and thoughts onto you, the tourist, in a manner not very flattering. She continues this projection throughout the book, making you into the British rulers, corrupt governors, rich expatriates, all the time projecting her opinions onto each you character.
Kincaid introduces the subject of the formerly splendid, but now damaged library early in the book, explaining the damage from the Earthquake in 1974 and that repairs are pending. The library is used as a representation of everything wrong with how Antigua was treated, and is referenced several times during the book. She says that, as a tourist, you might think it part of the quaintness of the people, descended from slaves, and their unusual sense of time, and not to think of all the unpleasant history and struggles of these quaint people. The library is referred to again as a British colonial building, housing British culture, British values and especially British law. Kincaid then refers to the library nostalgically, lamenting the loss of the beauty, atmosphere, location by the ocean, and the wealth of books available. She mourns the fact that the collection from the old library is housed above a dry-goods store, with most of the books in dusty boxes, unavailable for use. Yet, the unkind expatriates with money will not provide the funds to repair the old library.
Kincaid refers to Antigua several times as a small place. For such a small place, many big events with huge repercussions happened there, and she defends the Antiguans with a very large voice. But, she is careful to point out that, in the end, we are all just human.

March 9, 2011

“Things Are Not as Beautiful as They Seem”

by jessicamethven

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid is a unique book set in Antigua, which is written in first person. Kincaid captures the reader in the first of four sections with her blunt perception of what a typical tourist would experience when first arriving in her native country. In her narrative she outlines that tourist have high expectations for this beautiful island and are able to experience its beauty while absurdly being sheltered from the harsh realities the locals are faced with. Kincaid describes how the British have altered the real Antigua, and how the Antigua she once knew as a child no longer exists. She questions if Antigua was better off before it became independent from the British; discussing the harsh realities of the corrupted government. However Kincaid leaves the reader feeling positive about Antigua by outlining how Antigua has and always will have unreal natural beauty.

A Small Place is written with loose sentence structure and language. This allows the reader to feel as though Kincaid is directly speaking to them as she tells her story of Antigua. It seems as though the reader is having a conversation with Kincaid without having a chance to respond. She uses the word “you” frequently to directly attack and also speak to the reader.  This literary device helps Kincaid accentuate the readers sense of responsibly for the Antigua that exists today. The sentence structure or lack there of, makes the story feel personalized and realistic. The use of language shows how passionate Kincaid feels about her country; again contrasting not only its corruption but also its natural beauty. She uses a sarcastic tone while addressing tourists; suggesting tourists feel they have no worries when they arrive in Antigua.

The novel is written through Kincaid’s personal perspective and experiences. She directly attacks the typical white tourist who comes to Antigua for a break. A tourist looking for a break from everyday life, something Antiguans are unable to escape. Kincaid’s tone is angry and blatant; a form of jealousy is also distinguished from the Antiguans. Kincaid rants about how Antiguans are treated differently from white tourists in their own country. As a reader you feel attacked; feeling as though you have done something wrong within the first few pages. She describes how the British ruined Antigua and how corruption is now the reality of their government. Kincaid wonders if British rule would have actually been better for Antigua, also leaving the reader feeling the same.

The attack on the reader within this short read of eighty-one pages is startling, but also refreshing. Feeling as though you are in an actual conversation with someone who has grown up in Antigua. So the reader can experience first hand the things tourists are most commonly sheltered from; giving the reader a completely different view. The openness of the novel helps to pry the reader from expected generalizations or expectations. Kincaid states her opinion directly in front of you, not holding back. This book is perfect for prospective travellers or for people who have already travelled. It dives under the surface of what travellers typically experience while on vacation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Word count: 512