Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Girl" by Jamaica Kindcaid Project 196 Atigua and Barbuda

"Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid (1978, 3 pages)

\Project 196

Country 5 of 196
Antigua and Barbuda
Jamaica Kincaid

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
f you are an author and want to represent your country, please contact me.  If you want to do a guest post on your favorite story for the feature please contact me also.

If you are a publisher that has an anthology that is done in the 196 spirit, please contact me as I will be spotlighting appropriate collections.  

At first I thought I was setting myself an impossible task but a bit of research has made me optimistic  that I can find a short story from all 196 countries in the world.   I feel this part of the project will be completed.

I also want, and maybe this is crazy, to publish a short story, over the next 196 weeks from a writer in each 196 countries. 

If you are a short story author from Antigua and Barbuda, Georgia, Korea, the USA or Canada I would like to publish one of your short stories.  By the time this project ends I expect to have had between ten and twenty million visits so this is a good opportunity to get your work read

Antigua and Barbuda is a two island nation with a population of about 80,000 on the outer edges of the Caribbean Sea.  It obtained independence for the UK in 1981 and the primary language is English.   It population are largely descended from slaves brought from Africa to work the sugar plantations.  

Jamaica Kincaid was born in 1949 in Antigua but it can safely be said The New Yorker brought her to  world attention as a writer.  In 1965 she moved to Westchester, N. Y. to be an au pair or as we say in the Philippines, a yaya.    She then after leaving this position studied photography at The New School for Social Research and began to write short stories based loosely on her own experiences.   Through contacts she made from her writing she ultimately went to work for The New Yorker while frequently publishing short stories in the magazine.    She ended up marrying the son of the editor of The New Yorker.    She has also written some well regarded novels and works of non-fiction.  Her non-fiction work, A Small Place, is considered a very important work of post colonial West India studies.  I hope to read it soon.   Many consider her the most important contemporary female writer from the West Indies.  

I have previously posted on a great short story by Kincaid, "Poor Visitor".

"Girl" is a long outflowing  of advise given by a mother as her daughter is about to start her first job as a live in maid.  The mother gives her a series of admonitions that show how deeply a sense of colonial mentality and slavish manners adopted to get buy has permeated the mind of the mother and her culture.   You can feel the flavor of her mesmerizing motherly monologue in these lines:

Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap;wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry;
don't walk barehead in the hot sun;
cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil;
soak your little cloths right after you take them off;
when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn't have gum on it, because that way it won't hold up well after a wash;
soak salt fish overnight before you cook it;
is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school ?;
always eat your food in such a way that it won't turn someone else's stomach;
on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming;
don't sing benna in Sunday school;
you mustn't speak to wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions;
don't eat fruits on the street - flies will follow you;
but I don't sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school;
this is how to sew on a button;
this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on;
this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and to prevent yourself from looking like the slut you are so bent on becoming;

In addition to the stories obvious relevance for colonial studies it tells us a lot about the role of the sexes in Antigua.   

You can read the story here.

I was happy to find a great writer to represent Antigua and Barbuda.

My next Project 196 post will be on Haiti.  

If you have any suggestion for writers form other Caribbean nations, please leave a comment or contact me.

Mel u

1 comment:

Suko said...

This is an ambitious new project for The Reading Life. I wish you much luck! You are off to an excellent start with Jamaica Kincaid.