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Novelist Jamaica Kincaid to Deliver Leon Forrest Lecture

February 26, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Long-time New Yorker magazine staffer, gardening writer and novelist Jamaica Kincaid will deliver the annual Leon Forrest Lecture at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at Northwestern University.

The celebrated author -- who grew up in poverty in Antigua and was "discovered" on the streets of Manhattan by a New Yorker columnist -- will speak "On Writing" in Room 107 of Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Kincaid arrived in New York at the age of 17 to work as an au pair (or "servant" as she has said) for a New York family. In the mid-1970s, she began writing "Talk of the Town" pieces for The New Yorker, where she was a staff writer until 1995. Born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson, she changed her name because her family disapproved of her writing.

Kincaid's experiences growing up in Antigua under the pressures of poverty, colonialism and an ambivalent mother inspire and inform her evocative, dark and at times controversial prose. Issues of race, gender, colonialism, loss and difficult mother-daughter relationships infuse her writing.

Kincaid is the author of "Annie John" (1985), "Lucy" (1990), "The Autobiography of My Mother" (1996), "Mr. Potter" (2003) and "Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya (2005). "My Brother" (1997) is a non-fiction account of her youngest sibling, who died of AIDS.

Kincaid's stories have appeared in Rolling Stone and The Paris Review. Her first book, "At The Bottom Of The River" (1983) was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and went on to win an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.

The Forrest Lecture celebrates the life and work of the late Leon Forrest, beloved professor of English and African American Studies at Northwestern. His novels include "There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden," "The Bloodworth Orphans," "Two Wings to Veil My Face" and "Divine Days." Key in developing the University's African American Studies department, Forrest served as its chair from 1985 to 1994.

Past Forrest Lecturers have included Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison -- who edited Forrest's first novel -- and actor Danny Glover. For further information about the event sponsored by the departments of English and African American Studies, visit http://www.afam.northwestern.edu/index.html or call (847) 491-5122.
Topics: Campus Life