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Redux: In Honor of Jamaica Kincaid


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Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.

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Cover art by Jonathan Borofsky.

In our Winter 1981 issue, The Paris Review published an early story by Jamaica Kincaid. Titled “What I Have Been Doing Lately,” it follows the narrator’s recursive, dreamlike journey in search of home. (You can listen to her reading it on the inaugural season of The Paris Review Podcast.) The story was included in Kincaid’s 1983 debut collection, At the Bottom of the River, which drew from her early life in Antigua and marked her as a singular voice in American letters. Kincaid has gone on to publish five novels and five books of nonfiction—she was a prolific New Yorker Talk of the Town columnist—as well as many other stories. In 2020, the Daily published two of her essays, “I See the World” and “Inside the American Snow Dome.”

It’s our pleasure to announce that on April 12, 2022, The Paris Review will present the Hadada, our annual lifetime achievement award, to Jamaica Kincaid at our Spring Revel.

To celebrate, we’re highlighting the work of previous Hadada winners in this week’s Redux. Read on for the Art of Fiction no. 223 with Joy Williams, Kincaid’s short story “What I Have Been Doing Lately,” N. Scott Momaday’s poem “Concession,” and a series of collages by John Ashbery.

If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to The Paris Review? You’ll get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door.

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Eleven Collages by John Ashbery.

Interview
Joy Williams, The Art of Fiction No. 223
Issue no. 209 (Summer 2014)

The Keys were still kind of strange and unspoiled in the eighties. I went around the state and wrote things down, but nobody talked to me. Nobody! I’d limp into these bed-and-breakfasts and people would snarl at me and not want to talk. I mean, honestly, it was terrible and I had no idea what I was doing. And it wasn’t edited, nobody edited it.

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Eleven Collages by John Ashbery.

Fiction
What I Have Been Doing Lately
By Jamaica Kincaid
Issue no. 82 (Winter 1981)

What I have been doing lately: I was lying in bed and the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs. Quick. I opened the door. There was no one there. I stepped outside. Either it was drizzling or there was a lot of dust in the air and the dust was damp. I stuck out my tongue and the drizzle or the damp dust tasted like government school ink. I looked north. I looked south. I decided to start walking north. While walking north I decided that I didn’t have any shoes on my feet and that is why I was walking so fast.

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Eleven Collages by John Ashbery.

Poetry
Concession
By N. Scott Momaday
Issue no. 99 (Spring 1986)

Believe the sullen sense that sickness made,
And broke you in its hands.

Believe that death inhabits the mere shade
Intimacy demands.

I drink, my love, to your profound disease;
Its was the better suit.

I could not have provided you this ease,
Nor this peace, absolute.

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Eleven Collages by John Ashbery.

Art
Eleven Collages
By John Ashbery
Issue no. 188 (Spring 2009

If you enjoyed the above, don’t forget to subscribe! In addition to four print issues per year, you’ll also receive complete digital access to our sixty-eight years’ worth of archives.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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