Jamaica Kincaid and Jonathan Galassi
Jonathan Galassi: Jamaica, this is your first novel in a decade. How has your writing changed in the intervening period and what have you been thinking about in terms of writing?
Jamaica Kincaid: "This is your first novel in a decade." There are so many strange things in that brief statement. The word "decade" is one of them; the word "novel" is another. Do you know who I am, who I really am? Well, I don't know that, either.
The first real novel I read was Jane Eyre. I was about ten years of age or so. Before that I read mostly poetry: Milton, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and the Bible, King James version, and the Concise Oxford Dictionary; also Nancy Drew mysteries and everything written by Enid Blyton. Enid Blyton was the first person I pretended to be when I was a child. After that, I wanted to be Charlotte Brontë. It's possible my writing has gone from Enid to Charlotte. I would be so pleased if someone would say that about it. As for thinking about my writing: I do wish I could go beyond 200 pages, I do wish I would write one of those books with so many pages that no one ever finishes the reading of them, but alas, I seem unable to do this. Of course, there are many reasons not to finish reading a book, apart from the length of it.
Jonathan Galassi: I recall your saying once that you composed your sentences in your head, memorized them, and then wrote them down. Is that still the case?