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Jamaica Kincaid


Language and Postcolonialism

Like much of Kincaid’s early fiction, “Girl” recreates the world of a young girl, focusing on the nuances and rhythms of Caribbean English. This evocation of the speech of the islands is reminiscent of other Caribbean writers such as Derek Walcott of St. Lucia and Edward Kamau Brathwaite of Barbados, whose stories have also been compared to prose poems. Kincaid’s treatment of the lingering effects of slavery and colonialism on the minds of those descended from slaves and from the once-colonized Caribbean “natives” also places her in the company of Trinidadian novelist V. S. Naipaul and Dominican novelist Jean Rhys. Kincaid’s work has found its place within the English tradition of anticolonial travel writing, a tradition stretching back to Jonathan Swift’s mercilessly satirical writings on Ireland in the eighteenth century. The genre also includes George Orwell’s classic essay “Shooting an Elephant” and works by Graham Greene and the American Paul Theroux. Kincaid’s stories, novels, and essays have also been important to postcolonial theory, a branch of literary studies that is concerned with understanding how colonized peoples both internalize and resist the colonizing culture.

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