The Autobiography of My Mother A Novel

FSG Classics

Jamaica Kincaid

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

240 Pages


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Powerful, disturbing, stirring, Jamaica Kincaid's novel is the deeply charged story of a woman's life on the island of Dominica. Xuela Claudette Richardson, the daughter of a Carib mother and a half-Scottish, half-African father, loses her mother to death the moment she is born and must find her way on her own.

Kincaid takes us from Xuela's childhood in a home where she can hear the song of the sea to the tin-roofed room where she lives as a schoolgirl in the house of Jack LaBatte, who becomes her first lover. Xuela develops a passion for the stevedore Roland, who steals bolts of Irish linen for her from the ships he unloads, but she eventually marries an English doctor, Philip Bailey. Xuela's is an intensely physical world, redolent of overripe fruit, gentian violet, sulfur, and rain on the road, and it seethes with her sorrow, her deep sympathy for those who share her history, her fear of her father, her desperate loneliness. But underlying all is "the black room of the world" that is Xuela's barrenness and motherlessness.

The Autobiography of My Mother is a story of love, fear, loss, and the forging of character, an account of one woman's inexorable evolution, evoked in startling and magical poetry.


Praise for The Autobiography of My Mother

"Fierce, incantatory . . . An incredible portrait of an angry woman, a portrait that weds the hallucinatory magic of Toni Morrison's Beloved to the bitter disillusionment of V.S. Naipaul's middle novels . . . [Kincaid] has written a powerful and disturbing book."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A book that comes both to haunt and to dazzle us . . . [Kincaid] writes like an angel: with enviable lucidity and precision and a lyric touch that frequently aspires to the condition of poetry."—The Boston Sunday Globe

Kincaid, always an elegant stylist, makes this story of a simple woman extraordinary, filling her prose with rich, poetic detail . . . An unforgettable account of singular survival."—David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Jamaica Kincaid

  • Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. John's, Antigua. Her books include At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, Lucy, My Brother, and See Now Then, all published by FSG. She lives with her family in North Bennington, Vermont and Claremont, California.

  • Jamaica Kincaid Copyright Kenneth Noland