Friday, January 18, 2013

#BookReview: The Autobiography of My Mother - Jamaica Kincaid #BP2W (Dominica)

Xuela Claudette Richardson is born the daughter of a Carib woman and a Scottish/African father.  Her mother died during childbirth and the reader is reminded of this, seemingly, at least once a chapter.  The lack of a mother frames all of Xuela's thoughts and she seems to use it as an excuse for how she lives her life. Choosing not to love anyone, not even her father, Xuela comes across as a bitter and lonely individual.

While I know Jamaica Kincaid's work is hailed in certain circles, this book left me exhausted.  The repeated statement about Xuela's mother's death, her disregard and dislike for everyone around her and the supernatural undercurrent wore me out.  The author dwelled entirely too long in childhood and I eagerly anticipated her growing up and maturing.  Instead, I was treated to a rude, older version of the same character.

Initially I picked this book because I thought I might learn something of Dominican culture; however, short of the story being set in Dominica, there was little to learn of the country from the words of the author.  Since I'm obligated to read a book from a different country each week, it was too late to turn back and try another book once I was 50 pages into this one.  But given the opportunity, I would have preferred a different book.

Published: January 1997

Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763, which made the island a colony in 1805. In 1980, two years after independence, Dominica's fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean. - CIA World Factbook

Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about half way between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago
Size: 751 sq km, slightly more than four times the size of Washington, DC
Population: 73,126
Ethnic groups: Black 86.8%, mixed 8.9%, Carib Amerindian 2.9%, white 0.8%, other 0.7%
Languages: English (official), French patois

Theme: Isle of Beauty  

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