You Must Read Jamaica Kincaid’s Essay on Antigua

You Must Read Jamaica Kincaid’s Essay on Antigua

“If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see. If you come by aeroplane, you will land at the V.C. Bird International Airport. Very Cornwall (V.C.) Bird is the Prime Minister of Antigua. You may be the sort of tourist who would wonder why a Prime Minister would want an airport named after him — why not a school, why not a hospital, why not some great public monument? You are a tourist and you have not yet seen a school in Antigua, you have not yet seen the hospital in Antigua, you have not yet seen a public monument in Antigua.”

And so begins A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid’s beloved and abruptly blunt essay on Antigua. Kincaid isn’t afraid to “go there” as the text continues, explaining the terror and repercussions of her homeland being “conquered” by the British. She points out injustice in a way that’s insightful and stomach-turning all at once. While the subject matter is difficult, Kincaid’s voice manages to be anything but—making for an enthusiastic and energetic read that is filled with passion, history, and many, many lessons.

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