At the Bottom of the River

Jamaica Kincaid

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

96 Pages



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Reading Jamaica Kincaid is to plunge, gently, into another way of seeing both the physical world and its elusive inhabitants. Her voice is, by turns, naïvely whimsical and biblical in its assurance, and it speaks of what is partly remembered, partly divined. The memories often concern a childhood in the Caribbean—family, manners, and landscape—as distilled and transformed by Kincaid's special style and vision. Kincaid leads her readers to consider, as if for the first time, the powerful ties between mother and child; the beauty and destructiveness of nature; the gulf between the masculine and the feminine; the significance of familiar things—a house, a cup, a pen. Transfiguring our human form and our surroundings—shedding skin, darkening an afternoon, painting a perfect place—all of the short stories in At the Bottom of the River tell us something we didn't know, in a way we hadn't expected.

Originally published in 1983, Jamaica Kincaid's first book immediately established her as a vibrant and hauntingly beautiful—and unique—voice in contemporary literature.


Praise for At the Bottom of the River

"These stories have all of poetry's virtues—care for language, joy in the sheer sounds of words, and evocative power . . . [These tales are] beautiful to listen to."—Anne Tyler, The New Republic

"Eccentric, visionary pieces [with] all the force of illumination, and even a prophetic power."—Edith Milton, The New York Times Book Review

"Kincaid jumps with grace and ease from the mundane to the enormous, and, fascinated, we believe her."—David Leavitt, The Village Voice

"Hers is a voice you have never heard before . . . Exhilarating to read and impossible to forget."—Doris Grumbach, The Washington Post Book World

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Jamaica Kincaid

  • Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. John's, Antigua. Her many books include My Garden (Book); Talk Stories, a collection of her New Yorker writings; and Mr. Potter, a novel. In 2000 she was awarded the Prix Fémina Étranger for My Brother. Kincaid lives with her family in Vermont.

  • Jamaica Kincaid Copyright Kenneth Noland