Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography
Jamaica Kincaid (1949– ) (Miami-Dade College (CC BY-SA))
Jamaica Kincaid is lauded internationally as a distinctive literary voice of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The prolific and award-winning author is particularly known for mixing autobiography and fiction to examine issues of identity in the diaspora. Common themes in her work are mother-daughter relationships, colonialism, language, and death. Born Elaine Potter Richardson in Antigua, she was sent by her family to the U.S. when she was in her teens. She first published her writings anonymously (in the New Yorker) before settling on her pen name in 1974. Kincaid's widely anthologized first book At the Bottom of the River (1983) launched what DCALAB author Daryl Cumber Dance describes in depth as the "Kincaid canon," a series of books in which "the author captivates the reader with powerful stories characterized by her unique lyricism, her deceptively simple imagery, and the mesmerizing effect of her endless repetitions." Kincaid, who has been elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has taught as a lecturer at Harvard and in 2009 she joined the faculty at Claremont McKenna College as Josephine Olp Weeks Chair and professor of literature, teaching courses on autobiography and fiction writing.