Jamaica Kincaid is an Antiguan-American writer known for, among other things, her novel Annie John and her short story collection At the Bottom of the River. This page compiles some Jamaica Kincaid short stories, including the frequently anthologized “Girl”, which is probably her most famous. Jamaica Kincaid’s short stories are non-traditional and experimental, and can be difficult to understand.
Jamaica Kincaid Short Stories
In this prose/poem hybrid, a mother gives her daughter some advice about how to behave, and on becoming a woman. (Summary and Analysis)
“Girl” is the sixth story in the Amazon preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story.
It’s a woman’s first day working as a live-in nanny who goes to school at night. She adjusts to her new routine and misses her own home.
This story is the first chapter of the novel Lucy. It can be read in the Amazon preview. (15% in)
“The Letter from Home”
A letter informs a young woman of everything that is happening back home. It’s a rant of daily tasks and inconveniences that have to be dealt with.
If you’re looking for a Kincaid short story to compare to “Girl”, this seems like the one that’s most similar.
“In the Night”
The narrator dreams during the middle of the night of a series of loosely connected events and people. She sees a bird that’s really a woman, a man killing a woman, a dead man looking at his old house, and a baby that turns into a grazing animal. Her mother warns her about the jablesse—changelings—who aren’t what they seem. The surreal occurrences continue.
A daughter talks to her mother about her past, including the house she used to live in with its floorboards and mattress. She asks about an unidentified light she remembers. They also talk about the yard.
Jamaica Kincaid Short Stories, Cont’d
A girl talks about her school days and the kind of woman she will grow up to be. She’s aware of herself as a child, but knows that a great discovery is soon to come.
A young woman is away from home at a house in the mountains. She sits on the porch and on the couch. She looks through the house. She walks down the road in her bare feet. She wants to take a nap and dream she is somewhere else. She overhears some comments about the locale.
A girl relates interactions with her mother, and the evolution of their relationship. It includes some unusual experiences and transformations.
“What I Have Been Doing Lately”
The narrator answers the door when the bell rings, but doesn’t find anyone there. After having a look around, she goes on a dreamlike walk. She sees a monkey and eventually comes to a body of water that blocks her path. She builds a boat to cross it. In the distance, she sees a lone figure who she thinks is her mother.
The narrator is surrounded by blackness. It permeates everything, though it is not the things themselves. This is a particularly difficult story, and it’s hard to tell what is going on.
“At the Bottom of the River”
This is another very difficult narrative to track. The narrator seems to have grown to maturity. She is aware of her mortality.
I’ll keep adding Jamaica Kincaid short stories as I find more.