Annie John Critical Context (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series) - Essay

Jamaica Kincaid

Critical Context (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series)

Beginning her career as a journalist for The New Yorker, Kincaid offered insights into American culture. She soon gained support for her own work from the magazine’s editors, who began publishing her fiction in installments. Annie John, Kincaid’s first novel, followed her collection of short stories At the Bottom of the River (1983) and provided a broader context for those related autobiographical stories that are told from an adult point of view. Her novel Lucy (1990) introduced new characters and continued the autobiographical dimension of Kincaid’s observations in the United States. Between novels, she published A Small Place (1988), an extended essay addressed to white tourists in Antigua and reporting on the economic and social exploitation inflicted by the continuing colonial attitudes toward the island and its native residents.

Annie John is one of several novels that bear witness to the newly rising status of West Indian writing. Such established West Indian writers as poet and playwright Derek Walcott (winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature), novelists V. S. Naipaul, Wilson Harris, Samuel Selvon, Roger Mais, and Earl Lovelace, and poets Martin Carter, Edward Kamu Braithwaite, Dennis Scott, and Merwyn Morris are commanding increasing critical attention; Kincaid thus is among a new generation of West Indians who are contributing to the formation of a distinctive literary tradition.