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My Brother Paperback – November 9, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (November 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374525625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374525620
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Compassion only occasionally lightens the grim tone of Jamaica Kincaid's searing account of her younger brother Devon's 1996 death from AIDS. As in novels such as Annie John, Kincaid is ruthlessly honest about her ambivalence toward the impoverished Caribbean nation from which she fled, her restrictive family, and the culture that imprisoned Devon. That honesty, which includes chilling detachment from her brother's suffering, is sometimes alienating. But art has its own justifications. The bitter clarity of Kincaid's prose and the tangled, undeniably human feelings it lucidly dissects are justification enough. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Kincaid is the best interpreter of her own work, and she reads this recent memoir (LJ 10/1/97) with intensity. A successful writer now living in Vermont with her husband and two children, Kincaid is called back to her West Indian home on Antigua where her youngest brother, Devon, is dying of AIDS. They never knew each other well because she went to the United States when she was 16 and he was three. During Devon's last year she visits Antigua frequently to help her mother nurse him. Yet her brother is only part of the memoir. Much of the book concerns Kincaid's continued and troubled relationship with her domineering and manipulative mother. Kincaid's flat tone and sharp diction intensifies the words as memories interweave with present happenings, making this compelling listening. For general collections.?Nann Blaine Hilyard, Fargo
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

The story has the title of My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid.
Mike Smith
The story is slow moving, dull, repetitive and contains many of the author's rambling thoughts on gardening.
Ashley
I read this book a few years ago and I still think about it daily.
KSG

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gayla Collins on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a poignant book, written much like a journal. It is lyrical prose mourning the loss of Kincaid's brother from AIDS, and in a greater sense the loss of her childhood stolen by a demanding mother, ill father, and half-brothers who drained the family provisions. My eyes were opened to abject proverty that I, as an American, know so little about. Antigua is so improverished the hospital is just a holding place for death. Only through Jamaica's efforts, is her brother afforded any medications. The story is poignant and expressive. Perhaps, because it reads like a mourning journal, I never felt comfortable reading it, and was relieved to complete this short novel. Not my favorite book, but worth reading, not the least reason being education.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By plangley@concentric.net on November 15, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Every week I flip through the book section of Entertainment Weekly mostly to see what's new. Those reviews are vicious they rarely have a good thing to say. In the past they have given terrible marks to some of my favorite books. So I was amazed to see they had rated this book an A-. I immediately put down the magazine and picked up a copy of MY BROTHER. I was not disappointed.
Kincaid is a brilliant writer. Her prose is tight, short, succinct, clear and to the point. In less than 200 pages she says what other writers might have taken twice that much space to convey. Her writing is enjoyable to read even when she is writing about unpleasant subject matter. She has a keen insight into the events in her life and her relationships with other people.
To dismiss this as merely an "aids memoir" is to overlook the main theme in the book which primarily deals with the relationship of the author and her biological family and the life she's left behind in another country along with them.
Along the way Kincaid asks many intriguing questions, (although she does not always answer them). Why do parents do and say such cruel things to their children? Why do parents sometimes see these acts and statements as loving acts for the child's benefit? Why does one child from the same household grow up to be "good" and the other "bad"? Why do the parents sometimes love the "bad" child more than the "good" child? Why do we as adults continue to have contact with our parents and siblings even though we despise some of their past acts and continuing "bad" behaviors?
If you have relatives that you love and hate at the same time (and perhaps think you're unique in this aspect) you owe it to yourself to read this book. The aids aspect is only a backdrop for a mesmerizing look at family relationships and what makes people tick and act the way they do in those relationships.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm still thinking through the issues raised in "My Brother" -- and I suspect that it will be one of those books which, though it feels a bit hollow as I read it, will turn out to haunt me in the future. Only time will tell. The most remarkable thing about it, I think, is the way that Kincaid refuses to valorize any of the characters she describes. The incredible ire towards her mother is the only emotion that feels puzzling, given the lack of context for it -- I kept waiting for a revelation there that never came. With this exception, however, Kincaid seems committed to presenting a balanced portrayal: she does not heroize the dead, nor does she portray herself as particularly wise or noble in the face of death. It is this commitment to a human, complex portrayal that makes the description unique.
I just want to add that I am only posting this to counteract what appears to be a long list of high school book reports that make up most of the "reviewing" on this page. ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alice Foley on January 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Jamaica Kinkaid's book My Brother, is an emothional, poetic, and surprisingly frank account of the life and death of her brother, Devon. Not only is this book about her brother, but it is also about the many hardships her family experienced in her birthplace of Antigua. Although there are many aspects about this book that may disturb readers, overall it is a wonderful book that keeps readers interested from beginning to end.
Living a normal life in Vermont with her husband and children. Jamaica receieves a phone call from a friend in Antigua. Her youngest brother had been diagnosed with the AIDS virus. Jamaica is forced to leave her home and help her mother and brother who are poor and cannot afford treatment for the AIDS.
While back in Antigua, Jamaica is met by memories from her past. Memories of her mother who she no longer spoke to, and memories of her Rastafarian brother who live a life filled with drugs and unprotected sex. These all led up to him ultimately getting the AIDS virus and facing death.
Jamaica returns to see her brother who she hadn't seen in over 20 years, only to find him ill. The author (Jamaica) gruesomely describes the pain and symptoms he experiences during this time, and his developed dependance on his mother. Jamaica writes, "He lived in death." (p.88). For he did not live besides the fact that he ate and breathed. Ultimately she knew he would eventually die.
The entire scond half of the book is based on a time after his death. Jamaic writes about her feelings toward her brother feelings toward the dead, and the affect her brother's death had on the people in his life. Jamaica writes beautifully about death. Her writing is poetic, and she makes many profound comments. She wrote My Brother as a way to cope with and understand his death.
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