A Small Place Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
From the award-winning author of Annie John comes a brilliant look at colonialism and its effects in 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. Vere 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..." So begins Jamaica Kincaid's expansive essay, which shows us what we have not yet seen of the 10-by-12-mile island in the British West Indies where she grew up.
Lyrical, sardonic, and forthright by turns, in a Swiftian mode, A Small Place cannot help but amplify our vision of one small place and all that it signifies.
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|Listening Length||1 hour and 48 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||October 25 2016|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #29,894 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#71 in Caribbean & West Indian History (Books)
#82 in Adventure Travel
#169 in Art & Literature Biographies
Top reviews from Canada
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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.
As the book progresses, Kincaid switches her attention from "you" to the many questions and mysteries that have plagued Antigua since the British colonized the island to the time it was freed from England rule to how it is now. Kincaid does bring up problem posing questions to introduce many of the situations that occur in Antigua, but then usually proceeds to answer them using her experiences and history of Antigua. One example is the library that is pending repairs since 1974 (page 8,9), she poses questions not only to the reader, but also to herself during the journey. We are taken through a journey with her to find out what it will take to get the library up and running again. Kincaid's "I" makes sure you understand the differences of what "you," the tourist sees from your perspective to how the "I" perceives the tourist. The "I" opens up the history behind Antigua's world by explaining the harsh realities that occurred.
The "tour guides" (page 68, 69), or the many of the prime misters that have governed the island of Antigua, know of their island's hardships and corruptions to the point that it has become humiliating and degrading for the people of Antigua. Antigua's lifestyle has become such an allure for tourists that it further weakens the government's desire to change or improve upon it.
In the final pages of the book, Kincaid poses the question (pages 80 - 81) "are the descendents of those noble and exalted people, the slaves?" She describes the people of Antigua as no longer being slaves, but humans. She then states that since they are no longer slaves, they are no longer noble or exalted that they are human beings. The troubling ironic situation that "I" poses on "you" is that while Antigua was under British rule, the island was prosperous and structured, but at a cost that the Antiguans were slaves. Now that the British do not rule Antigua, the Antiguans are no longer slaves, but the island's living conditions and lifestyle are that of a poor one. The British dehumanizing in their ways toward the Antiguans that weren't able to grow on their own as a society.
Kincaid's meticulous description and flow of anticolonial thought asks the reader to leap into the unspoken--domination and hierarchies. At the same time, she questions the role of the tourist and the condition of the native.
This book awakens the mind and brings necessary questions for self-actualization.
Top reviews from other countries
When I visited the island before I read her book, I always had my 'tourist hat on', and was oblivious to
the struggles of the indigenous population; the corruption that still haunts their politicians; and the failed
legacies that the British had left behind some time ago.
It was only after I had read her book, that everything she had written, fell into place when I went back to visit again.
The majority of cars were still in a much better state than the homes where people lived, and many of the islanders
that I spoke to were always complaining about the influx of the Guyanese & the Syrians who were hindering their own
job prospects, also, the politicians were still 'ducking & diving' to avoid the smears of corruption; and not forgetting
the influence of the long departed British is still much in evidence to this day (you only have to look at the
decaying statues & monuments, and the over reliance on a judicial system that still prolongs many a murder
trial on this island).
An evocative read, but a very accurate one ...
A Small Place is a memoir, it is also a history of Antigua in a way, it is also an essay of anger against the people who colonised Antigua, it is also a voice of great empathy that Kincaid has for her country and people. The book begins with an attack on tourists who visit Antigua – what they expect and choose to see versus what the place is.
A Small Place is a short book – but extremely powerful and angry. Kincaid writes about home – about what it meant to her, and what has become of it. Of how the English ruled them, and how their independence has only worsened the situation because of corruption and bureaucracy. Jamaica Kincaid speaks candidly – almost to the point of being brutal – there are no holds barred. The prose comes from an extremely personal space and therefore the writing shines the way it does.
For instance, when she speaks of lack of clean water in the country or even about the beloved old library that was destroyed in an earthquake and how nothing was done to build the new one. And now that there is a new one that has been built (way after the book was published), but there is still doubt if it is open to public or not.
Kincaid’s book is large – very large not only in its scope but also in what it has to say – and how she manages to say it in all in less than hundred pages is nothing short of a feat. That explains the writer she is – succinct, bare-boned, and yet so deeply emotional that every emotion is reflected on paper, and in turn is felt by the reader.