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Comment: Good copy with moderate cover and page wear from being handled and read. Accessories or dust jacket may be missing. Could be an ex-library copy that will have all the stickers and or marking of the library. Some textual or margin notes possible, and or contain highlighting.
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A Small Place Paperback – April 28, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 81 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (April 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374527075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374527075
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Kincaid here examines the geography and history of Antigua, where she was raised. We first see the island through the eyes of the typical North American tourist, who aims to exchange his or her own "everydayness" for that of someone without the same privilege. But rather than interpret Antiguan experience for outsiders, Kincaid lays bare the limits of her own understanding. She asks us to grasp the crime of empire in a new way, stressing that it can be understood only from a post-colonial point of view: surveying 20 years of a corrupt "free" government, she finds the inheritance of colonialism to be a commercial and governmental enterprise that serves individual interests. Antiguans, she effectively demonstrates, are ordinary people saddled with an unthinkable but unbreachable past. Mollie Brodsky, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Ms. Kincaid writes with passion and conviction . . . [with] a poet's understanding of how politics and history, private and public events, overlap and blur."-- The New York Times

"A jeremiad of great clarity and force that one might have called torrential were the language not so finely controlled."--Salman Rushdie

"A rich and evocative prose that is also both urgent and poetic . . . Kincaid is a witness to what is happening in our West Indian back yards. And I trust her."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Kincaid continues to write with a unique, compelling voice that cannot be found anywhere else. Her small books are worth a pile of thicker--and hollower--ones."-- San Francisco Chronicle

"This is truth, beautifully and powerfully stated . . . In truly lyrical language that makes you read aloud, [Kincaid] takes you from the dizzying blue of the Caribbean to the sewage of hotels and clubs where black Antiguans are only allowed to work . . . Truth, wisdom, insight, outrage, and cutting wit."--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Wonderful reading . . . Tells more about the Caribbean in 80 pages than all the guidebooks."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

More About the Author

Jamaica Kincaid's works include, Mr Potter, The Autobiography of My Mother, and My Brother, a memoir. She lives in Bennington, Vermont.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on April 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
"A Small Place," by Jamaica Kincaid, is a nonfiction prose piece about the Caribbean island of Antigua. The author bio at the beginning of the book notes that the author was born on Antigua. A lean 81 pages, this is nonetheless a powerful text.
Kincaid discusses British colonialism, the corruption of the Antiguan government, racism, and greed. It seems to me a key question raised by the book is whether post-colonial Antigua is worse than colonial Antigua. The book is very much haunted by the spectre of New World slavery.
This book is a dark, angry jeremiad. I think it works better when seen as an extended prose poem rather than as an essay. As the latter, it could be criticized as full of invalid generalizations and undocumented claims. But as a poetic/prophetic text, it is chillingly effective.
Ultimately, Kincaid's vision of the human condition is extremely negative But her haunting, almost hypnotic prose really held me. I recommend the book to anyone planning a trip to a poor country for their own pleasure.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Antigua, an awe-inspiring vacation spot for Europeans and North Americans, takes on a different aura when discussed by native Jamaica Kincaid. Ms. Kincaid describes how the Antiguans feel about the tourists who visit: ugly people. Ugly because they invaded, then brought slaves to work for them so they could become rich while ignoring the needs of those who made them wealthy. Ugly because of what they've done to the island and the people who live there. Jamaica talks about the corrupt government and the hand that North Americans, British, Syrians and Lebanese play in that corruption. She describes how England paved the roads the Queen of England would travel when she visited, but left everything else in poor condition. Ms. Kincaid also mentions the drug dealers that the government ignores and those who build ugly condos for the wealthy and rent business space to the government who should be building their own space.

In a very few pages, Jamaica Kincaid says what a lot of former slaves would like to say but are perhaps too politically correct to utter. She does the job for us. Ms. Kincaid does not mince her words when it comes to what the British Empire did to the people of Antigua and the world for that matter. Frequently, I found myself wanting to stand up and cheer as I read her words of disgust and anger. While Ms. Kincaid is specifically speaking of Antigua, her words describe the slave trade and the destruction and poverty left in the wake of it no matter what country. It is well worth reading - more than once.

Reviewed by alice Holman

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By P. B. Coovert on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Published in 1988 Kincaid's "A Small Place" is an unflinchingly angry portrayal of post-colonial, post-slavery life on the island of Antigua. To put it simply: Kincaid is as mad as hell, and she's not going to take it anymore. If you're white and can shelve your defensiveness for a moment this book is actually really enjoyable, it's written in first person and directed at "you," the British colonizer and/or the fat white tourist. Kincaid's sense of humor is wonderfully dark, and there are a lot of moments of humor if you keep an open mind. Still, at the heart of the matter is the story of Antigua's decay, left to rot by the British colonizers, with a population that doesn't vote openly corrupt officials out of office. She openly points out the irony of the celebration of emancipation alongside the valorization of the Hotel Training School, which teaches the residents of the island to be servants. In the end Kincaid concludes that no one is to blame, that after slavery the masters are no longer evil and the slaves are no longer "noble," but that everyone is merely human. She problematizes the matter, but offers no solutions, which might irritate those concrete sequentials among us. Also, she refers to Columbus, and the explorers in general, so adored in American culture, as "human rubbish" on multiple occasions. You might not agree with Kincaid, but this is one topic someone should be angry about, and her unapologetic narrative is about as honest as you can get.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By kiki on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book because it is beautifully written- lyrical, poetic, smart. I think she captures her complicated opinions on the culture and history of Antigua wonderfully. It's a brutally honest book, which I think is refreshing. As far as I know, and I may be wrong, she doesn't really represent this as anything other than her opinion. So by "brutally honest," I don't mean everything in it is true, in a textbook kind of way. I just mean that she expresses an eloquent, honest, complicated, contradictory portrait of how she feels. And the writing is beautiful. It's best described as a "poetic essay." If you're looking for a travel guide or a straight non-fiction history book, this isn't it and it shouldn't be marketed that way.

I don't feel strongly about the politics of this book, nor did I feel particularly hated (I'm a white American), but I guess I could see how you might feel that way if you are the sort of person who takes everything personally.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Esposito on June 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
My son recently had to read Jamaica Kincaid's book "A Small Place" for a college course and was taken aback by the strong language and the repudiation of the tourist. I found it a fascinating read and finished it in one sitting - not difficult because it only has 81 pages. After reading it, I tried my best to explain to him the social and cultural context of the book, and told him that I didn't take the attacks on the tourist personally, nor did I feel that the majority of people in the Caribbean had that same attitude. However, there is certainly frustration among the population with the social and economic difficulties that many Caribbean people face.

I find the book, in its passionate expression of the point of view contrary to the tourist literature, useful as a reality check for reflecting on my motives for visiting the Caribbean, analyzing my expectations, and understanding how my behavior may be perceived.

It is important to note that the book was written in 1988, when the Bird family was still firmly entrenched in power in Kincaid's native Antigua. The politics of the Bird family in Antigua achieved, according to one source that I read, a level of corruption surpassing the corruption of many other Caribbean societies with the exception of Duvalier's Haiti. When I visited Antigua in 2005, the Bird era had ended with the election of Baldwin Spencer the year before.

An analogy that I find useful is that, while we who live in industrialized societies are collectively responsible for world hunger and the uneven distribution of wealth, it would be hard to argue, except in a few cases, that we are individually responsible.
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