An Extremely Hot Walk
The sun blazes through the atmosphere turning the wet earth into a steaming bath. I was uncomfortable in the delicious way that Kincaid describes in her travel book A Walk in the Himalayas, and aware that I could be one of the tourist she cuts down in A Small Place. I’m so please that I was able to be in this tropical atmosphere for a while.
While at the Eastern Caribbean Cultures conference, I was introduced to the social activist and novelist, Marie-Elena John. She wrote her first novel, Unburnable in 2006, and was describing the writing and how it connected to her personal biography. (interview)Her talk was fascinating. I learned that she grew up in Antigua but her mother was from Dominica. She spent time in Dominica as a child but especially absorbed its culture through contact with her mother. She has this in common with Jamaica Kincaid. I asked her what was the double-edged sword of being compared to Jamaica Kincaid, which she had mentioned in her talk. She said that it is an honor to be compared to such a well known author, but that as a child her mother and other older Antiguan women were shocked by her tell all writing style. She heard them say, "How could she do that to her mother? She is still alive and walking around here!" John said that recently while conducting a writer's workshop at the University of Puerto Rico, she told the aspiring writers that they had to be committed to the writing and where it wants to go. You have to be willing to write about what might be considered private-even when it's difficult. (I will read John's novel soon.) John said that she was going back to New York (on a six month contract) to work on another women's grant writing project. Though I know her work is important, I hope she writes her second novel soon-while the trail is still hot!