Jamaica Kincaid will present “The Writer in Her World,” the annual Frances Steloff Lecture/Reading at Skidmore College Thursday, Oct. 2, at 8 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.
She will receive an honorary doctorate of letters from Skidmore President Phillip Glotzbach. Following her presentation she will respond to audience questions and participate in a book signing.
Author of a wide range of books, including novels, memoirs and polemical works, Kincaid is perhaps best known for Annie John, Lucy, At The Bottom of the River, Autobiography of My Mother, Mr. Potter and A Small Place. Her most recent book, See Now Then, has stirred considerable controversy, turning as it does on a disastrous marital break-up, which is said to resemble very closely the demise of Kincaid's own long-time marriage to the son of New Yorker editor William Shawn.
A native of Antigua in the West Indies, she was discovered by the New Yorker magazine as a very young woman and rapidly came to fame as the author of "Talk Of The Town" pieces published in that magazine.
Kincaid has written on several occasions that she feels it to be her "duty to make everyone a little less happy," and there is no doubt that she has been true to her self-assigned vocation in books and in her public appearances across the country. See Now Then, for example, was said by the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review to "endow common experience with a mythic ferocity" and a "scouringly vivid" prose. The reviewer for The Chicago Tribune described it as "Chaucer's Wife of Bath meets Virginia Woolf," while Ms. Magazine described it as "a hurricane of a book, a novel of psychic bewilderment" which bears upon "the permanent legacy of slavery and colonialism" reflected upon with "frequent savage humor" and "unabashed rage."
Kincaid is a professor at Harvard University and a long-time visiting writer each July at Skidmore's New York State Summer Writers Institute.
The annual Steloff Lecture is named for the legendary founder of New York City's Gotham Book Mart. Steloff was a Saratoga native who endowed the lecture series nearly 50 years ago, and is therefor responsible for Skidmore's bringing to campus many of the world's greatest writers, from Nadine Gordiner, Saul Bellow, and Seamus Heaney to Susan Sontag, Arthur Miller, and Zadie Smith.