Tuesday, 12 February 2013

THINGS FALL APART: Jamaica Kincaid publishes first novel in 10 years

After a decade-long hiatus, celebrated Antiguan author Jamaica Kincaid has returned to bookstores with her latest novel See Now Then, centred on an acrimonious divorce in which (according to the New York Times), the main characters – Mr. & Mrs. Sweet – “bear a striking resemblance to Ms. Kincaid and to her former husband, Allen Shawn.” 

Kincaid, 63, whose own marriage ended in 2002, has since denied that the book is autobiographical. In a recent interview, the author (born Elaine Potter Richardson) maintained that her novel’s primary subject was time itself. “The thing I was trying to do in the novel was to get at the unknowability of another person, the person you have the deepest intertwining with,” she said. “I wanted to write about the life of children and the lives of their parents without everyone thinking it was about me and my children and their life. And of course, everyone thinks it is. It is not. I maintain it is not.”

Critics have described See Now Then as a “brilliant”, “evocative” and “piercing” work that demonstrates a uniquely Caribbean talent for seeing beyond and through the surface of things. Kincaid, whose numerous honours include the PEN/Faulkner Award, is the author of such well-known titles as A Small Place, Annie John, Lucy and the short-story collection, At the Bottom of the River.

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