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Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid’s writing captures the tensions of mother-daughter relationships and the displacement of the immigrant experience. Raised in Antigua, Kincaid immigrated to America at age seventeen and became an au pair. She took night classes at community college and earned a full scholarship to Franconia College in New Hampshire, but dropped out after one year, plunging directly into a writing career. She began writing for magazines in 1973 and from 1976–1996 worked for The New Yorker as a staff writer and columnist. In 1979 she married Allen Shawn, son of New Yorker editor William Shawn, and later converted to Judaism, remaining committed to the religion even after her divorce in 2002. She published her first novel, Annie John, in 1985, and has written a staggering array of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books that draw on her experiences growing up in the West Indies and creating a new life for herself in America. In her most widely published story, “Girl,” details of daily life in Antigua are revealed through the terse, critical instructions a mother gives her daughter in hopes of turning her into a proper young lady. As of 2015 Kincaid teaches writing at Claremont McKenna College in California.

Jamaica Kincaid
Full image
Jamaica Kincaid.
Courtesy of Marianna Cook/University of North Dakota
Date of Birth
May 25, 1949
Place of Birth
St. John's

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jamaica Kincaid." (Viewed on January 21, 2019) <>.


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