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Updated: Mar 06, 2013 07:03 AM EST

Jamaica Kincaid's See Now Then

Jamaica Kincaid's See Now Then
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Author Jamaica Kincaid releases her new novel which tackles some difficult themes, 10 years after writing her last novel.

Author Jamaica Kincaid, best known for her books "At the Bottom of the River" and "The Autobiography of My Mother", has announced the release of her new book "See Now Then", which tackles some difficult themes.

The novel begins with the scene of a seemingly tranquil home life of Mr. and Mrs. Sweet in small-town New England, but soon shows that their marriage life is anything but sweet. Critics claim Kincaid has taken the inspiration for her book from her own life. Similar to Kincaid, the character of Mrs. Sweet in the book is also an avid gardener and her marriage to a composer also ends in divorce. However, the author reveals she is disheartened by the fact that critics have dismissed her work as an autobiography and says it's not true.

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Kincaid talks to Celeste Headlee, host of weekends on All Things Considered about her book, the characters in the novel, and drawing inspiration from her own life.

On the book's narrative:

"It's not a book in the usual way of and then and then and next. It doesn't have what you'd call a traditional structure or a traditional narrative. But it's very structured, it's very mannered, actually, in the way your mind might work. I mean, I've come to think that the traditional way of writing is the artificial way that that's not the way things work at all. It's not the way thinking works."

On the character of time:

"Time is the main character. Time is the element that controls the consciousness, the very being of the people. I started out thinking, 'What is this thing we call time?' And it started in this way: Every day I see a photograph of myself taken when I was 2 years of age. And I would look at it and wonder, 'Well, what happened to that 2-year-old, where did it go?' ... And so it's from that really I began to contemplate all the things that had happened."

On drawing from her own life in the novel:

"My own everyday life was not on my mind so much, but how to render something that had happened. How to make sense of it. You know, men write about their life all the time. You know, Norman Mailer would put himself in his books, and no one made it seem that he was doing something less. ... If I had looked different, my autobiography in the book, or any kind of autobiography in the book, would not be held against it. ... Sometimes I feel that there is a certain kind of book that I should have written, that is expected of someone like me: the travails of the black woman ... (The book is) not about the black woman, or the black this, it's about a human experience."

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