Jamaica Kincaid is a widely acclaimed and fiercely original writer known for her novels, short stories, and essays, including writings on her life as a gardener. She was also staff writer for the New Yorker from 1973 to 1996 and has been a contributor for the Village Voice.
She is beloved by generations of readers who discovered her fiction, including Annie John and “Girl,” in high school and is admired by critics for her daring and unorthodox body of work. Answering claims that her fiction and essays are characterized by anger, Kincaid says, “The important thing isn’t whether I’m angry. The more important thing is, is it true? Do these things really happen? I think I’m saying something true. I’m not angry … The way I think of it is that I’m telling the truth.”
In the New York Review of Books, Darryl Pinckney wrote, “Kincaid’s rhythms and the circularity of her thought patterns in language bring Gertrude Stein to mind. She is an eccentric and altogether impressive descendant.”
Kincaid is the recipient of a Guggenheim grant and has been nominated for the National Book Award. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.
Kincaid was born in Antigua, British West Indies, in 1949, and arrived in the United States in 1965 to work as an au pair. In 1973, she changed her name from Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson to Jamaica Kincaid, mostly to prevent her parents from finding out that she was writing. She’s now the mother of two grown children and is a professor in the African and African American Studies department at Harvard University.
00:00 Introduction from Ed Eigen
09:49 Lecture from Jamaica Kincaid
01:03:24 Q + A/Discussion