Jamaica Kincaid's early work earned her immediate acclaim as an unusual voice hailing from an unusual place. Her short story collection, At the Bottom of the River (1983), was followed two years later by her first novel, Annie John (1985). Both books are set in her native Antigua, a Caribbean island of roughly 108 square miles. The dreamy lyricism of her short fiction gave way to the plainer, yet more resonant style of Annie John, which tells a largely autobiographical story of childhood. Neither book suggested the controversial figure that Kincaid would become. Her fiction has remained autobiographical, but her grown-up protagonists are prone to disquieting anger and her nonfiction has proved downright divisive. As Kincaid's literary reputation continues to grow, the vapors of disapproval still trail her, and this is as it should be, for the strength of one of our most remarkable living writers resides in no small part in her ability to unsettle readers.Less
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