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Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Best Fiction
This collection is Jamaica Kincaid’s earliest published writings: her inspired, lyrical short stories.
These stories plunge the listener gently into another way of perceiving both the physical world and its elusive inhabitants. Her narrative is, by turns, naïvely whimsical and biblical in its assurance, and it speaks of what is partially remembered, partly divined. The memories often concern a childhood in the Caribbean—family, manners, and landscape—as distilled and transformed by Kincaid’s special style and vision.
Kincaid leads us to consider, as if for the first time, the powerful ties between mother and child, the beauty and destructiveness of nature, the gulf between the masculine and the feminine, the significance of such familiar things as a house, a cup, a pen. Transfiguring our human form and our surroundings—shedding skin, darkening an afternoon, painting a perfect place—these stories tell us something we didn’t know, in a way we hadn’t expected.
“These stories have all of poetry’s virtues—care for language, joy in the sheer sounds of words, and evocative power…beautiful to listen to.”
Anne Tyler, New York Times bestselling author
“Eccentric, visionary pieces…[with] all the force of illumination and even prophetic power.”
New York Times Book Review
“Hers is a voice you have never heard before…Exhilarating to read and impossible to forget.”
Washington Post Book World
“She jumps with grace and ease from the mundane to the enormous, and, fascinated, we believe her.”
“The voice—incantatory, lyric, rhapsodic—is closer to the condition of poetry and music than to fiction in any of its ordinary registers.”
“Her first collection is flecked with individuality and talent—especially in the more ironic sequences…Kincaid shows vivid promise in this slim debut.”