~Photo by Marianna Cook
Video recordings of Jamaica Kincaid at the 2011 UND Writers Conference.
Writer, novelist and professor Jamaica Kincaid skillfully and elegantly tempers the boundary between poetry and prose. With her books and novels, including Annie John, Lucy, At the Bottom of the River and A Small Place, she has carved out a unique and cherished place in the American literary landscape.
Kincaid’s literary "voice" is deeply rooted in her experiences as a child in her native Antigua. Growing up under the colonial rule of England instilled in her a tragic, yet often-ignored perspective. Says Kincaid, "I never give up thinking about the way I came into the world, how my ancestors came from Africa to the West Indies as slaves. I just never forget it. It’s like a big wave that’s still pulsing." Known for her candid and emotionally honest writing, in 1976 her work attracted the attention of William Shawn, former editor of The New Yorker, where she became a staff writer and featured columnist for nine years.
Kincaid won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts for her first book, At the Bottom of the River. Her award-winning book, A Small Place, inspired the 2001 documentary, Life and Debt, about the impact globalization can have on a developing country. Kincaid is at work on a new novel, See Now Then.
A professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences April 29, 2009. She's also the 2010 recipient of the Clifton Fadiman Medal. Prior to joining Claremont Mckenna College in 2009, Kincaid began her academic career in 1991 at Harvard University holding joint appointments in the English and African-American Studies departments.