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an existentialist novel with a twist
on July 8, 2013
I had not expected to find Jamaica Kincaid's fiction to so resemble the (men's) existentialist fictions of another century. But there is a proto-feminist--or at least socially grounded twist to the alienated protagonist as she, Lucy, a West Indian Black is thrown into a white world--the au pair for an upper class white family in New england or some North East region of the states-- fleeing her island and mother. Her complicated love/hate feelings for her mother (shadowed by love hate feelings for the white woman she works for) twist the usual existentialist turn on identity, even race, from the usual tale of solitary ego to a troubled meditation on a daughter/mother dyad also complicated by race and cultural alienation. she experiences the burgeoning sexuality of her 19 year old self --sex with men mostly--as something outside of herself while describing it also as fun and adventurous. Actually I see how this review is obscure because i really have to go back to re-read to get more fully the different layers of what Kincaid is doing, but it's a very compelling and nuanced read.