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Jamaica Kincaid (born May 25, 1949) is an Antiguan-American novelist, essayist, gardener, and gardening writer.
- I don’t like to hear people speaking in my work. I like reading it, and I marvel at people who can do it well. And there’s something when you see it done well. It’s just so terrific. But I’m not able to do it.
- On the lack of dialogue in her works in “An Interview with Jamaica Kincaid” in The Believer (2003 Jul 1)
- Everything I do is because of writing. If I go for a walk, it’s because I’m thinking of writing. I go look at flowers, I go look at the garden, I go look at a museum, but it’s all coming back to writing. I don’t really do anything that isn’t about writing, and I don’t really know who I am if I’m not thinking about writing.
- On her obsession with writing in “Jamaica Kincaid: Does Truth Have a Tone?” in Guernica (2013 Jun 17)
- “Race.” I really can’t understand it as anything other than something people say. The people who have said that you and I are both “black” and therefore deserve a certain kind of interaction with the world, they make race. I can’t take them seriously. Not beyond the fact that they have the ability to say that you and I are a single race. You know, a piece of cloth that is called “linen” has more validity than calling you and me “black” or “negro.” “Cotton” has more validity as cotton than yours and my being “black.”…
- On how she interprets the term “race” in “Jamaica Kincaid: Does Truth Have a Tone?” in Guernica (2013 Jun 17)
- The thing about writing in America—and I just recently understood this—is that writers in America have an arc. You enter writing as a career, you expect to be successful, and really it’s the wrong thing. It’s not a profession. A professional writer is a joke. You write because you can’t do anything else, and then you have another job. I’m always telling my students go to law school or become a doctor, do something, and then write. First of all you should have something to write about, and you only have something to write about if you do something. If you just sit there, and you’re a writer, you’re bound to write crap. A lot of American writing is crap. And a lot of American writers are professionals. Writing is not a profession. It’s a calling. It’s almost holy…
- On her views of writing in “Jamaica Kincaid: Does Truth Have a Tone?” in Guernica (2013 Jun 17)
- In the place I’m from you don’t have much room. You have the sea. If you step on the sea, you sink. The only thing the sea can do is take you away. People living on a tiny island are not expected to have deep thoughts about how they live, their right to live. You can have little conflicts, disagreements about what side of the street to walk on, but you cannot disagree that perhaps there should not be a street there. You cannot disagree about fundamental things, which is what an artist would do. All they’re left with is a kind of pastoral beauty, a kind of natural beauty, and wonderful trinkets…
- On the limited opportunities in her country of origin in “Jamaica Kincaid: Does Truth Have a Tone?” in Guernica (2013 Jun 17)