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3.5 out of 5 stars17
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2012
This book didn't stop me from visiting Antigua at all, in fact, Jamaica Kincaid's observations in 'A Small Place' were spot on.

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 ...
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on 10 February 2016
A short book but one filled with so much hate. Kincaid hates Antigua's colonial past and it's present corrupt government (written in the 1980s). She hates it's plantation history, maintained by slaves, and it's present tourist industry, maintained by servants. She makes many good points about these issues but by using the second person point of view she makes her attacks very personal - you the reader are responsible. You the reader are especially hated if you are white. If you are English she claims you hate your country and English people, and that Antiguans despise you - finding you ugly, pitiful and ill mannered. She asserts that English people should walk around in sackcloth and ashes to repent their sins. These heart felt, if hateful words, would be more palatable if Kincaid still lived in Antigua and was working to make her country a better place. Instead she has lived most of her life in America and had this book published with the help of The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation - whose vast fortune was made in mining and smelting...
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on 24 February 2005
Small Place is a very simple-written book. With a fascinating setting in Antigua is the story of the extraordinary conditions of the life of the people of Antigua. Jamaica Kincaid's writing portrays not only her bitterness with the legacies of slavery but also her disappointment with the new Antigua, especially the loss of social values and the corruption plaguing the political life and those higher up in society. And she brought it out so succinctly and poignantly that this book clearly articulates the crisis plaguing developing nations, especially Africa that though independent, still have not yet shaken off the negative legacies of colonialism. This is a highly recommendable read.
Also recommended: THE USURPER AND OTHERS, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE
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on 2 January 2002
Kincaid, an ex-Antigua resident, rails at just about everything in Antigua. She highlights what she sees as corrupt government and morally dubious foreign policy and rails at the american and european tourists who tacitly support the regime by frequenting the island as a holiday destination.
Kincaid is equally critical of the Antiguan people for constantly re-electing the same government; she uses the island's library (or lack thereof) as a benchmark for all that is wrong.
She fails to mention that the island is devoid of natural resources and without tourism would barely have a self sustaining economy, nor does she delight ever in the beauty of the country or the friendliness of its people (which she would dismiss as colinial style servitude)
If you know and love the caribbean this is a real eye-opener which will make you see the area (particularly Antigua) in a different light. Don't expect a tourist guide or even an easy read though; Kincaid is for real and you'll feel uncomfortable for the read
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on 7 September 2006
An interesting read from an unusual viewpoint and indeed location. It felt a little simplistic at times, as if Kincaid was really only scratching the surface of the price of independence for former colonies.
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on 17 March 2011
The blurb on the back promises 'rich and evocative prose' and something 'elegant', 'poetic' and 'compelling' . This book was such a disappointment. I learned virtually nothing about the Antiguan people AS Antiguans. Kincaid presents her fellow islanders as nothing more than victims and because she filters everything through the colonised/coloniser lens, the writing is predictable and boring. If you like polemics you'll love this book. I could find nothing poetic in it.
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on 17 November 2010
A rather bitter review of Antigua' colonial and post colonial governance as seen from exile in North America. An interesting take on this slave island's current luxury holiday image.
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on 23 February 2013
Puts all smug tourists, second home owners, sun worshippers and old colonials firmly in their place. Paints a sad picture of rampant corruption.
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on 6 September 2014
Having lived 6 months in Antigua, a decade after this was written, I found Kincaird's account interesting, and can emphathise with the scathing, stream of consciousness this book heaps on this little Island nation that has a dark and ugly side. If you're lying on its beaches marvelling at the sunshine and Caribbean atmosphere it's important to see this little Banana Republic from this perspective. It's a pity the author has to be so negative but in context it's a short and necessary read that might apply to my own native Zimbabwe or any post colonial country that has become a disappointment of missed opportunity, corruption and abuse of power. If this is your first encounter with Kincaird's writing, be warned: she can be cynical and cutting and go straight for the heart of the matter, telling it like it is. Perhaps try some of her other writing, but she's an oblique writer with a chip on her shoulder.
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on 22 June 2015
Fantastic! spot on commentary of post colonial Caribbean islands.
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