Jamaica Kincaid’s first novel in ten years out in February

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This early review appeared in Publishers’ Weekly.

In her first novel in a decade, See Now Then (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Kincaid brings her singular lyricism and beautifully recursive tendencies to the inner life of Mrs. Sweet, who is facing the end of her marriage, and who, over the course of the book, considers the distinctions between her nows and her thens, particularly when recounting what was while the memories bleed with a pain that still is. Particularly touching is Kincaid’s rendering of motherhood. The immediacy of Mrs. Sweet’s small son’s toys—Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers—creates a significant foil to the ethereal interior echoes. Such is the reality of parenting: what is imagined or remembered loses every battle against plastic warriors and the demands of children.

What’s startling is the presumably autobiographical nature of the plot. The family lives in Bennington, Vt., like Kincaid, and Mr. Sweet is a composer who leaves his wife for a younger musician, as was the case with Kincaid’s former husband. While evidence of fictionalization is obvious (naming the children after Greek myths), the book feels precariously balanced between meticulous language and raw emotion. The distinction between life and art is not always clear, but only a writer as deft as Kincaid can blur the lines so elegantly.

For the original report go to http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-18056-0

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