Thursday, January 29, 2004

In a bare, brightly lit lecture hall, Kincaid starts off her reading by telling us that she's happy she trusted her instincts to come to Israel. But before she says how much she's enjoyed a trip to Haifa and the Negev, she comes out with a startlingly gratuitous and incongruous comment. "I never have anything good to say about my government," she declares as the audience titters sympathetically. (One has the impression that many in the audience might have nothing good to say about their country either).

She goes on to thank U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer and his wife for their kindness, but then adds, "It's the only nice thing I can say about my country." ...After that, it's a little hard to focus on the mellifluous slightly singsong voice reading parts of her book about the death of her brother from AIDS.

Still, the women in the row behind me whisper, "Oh, isn't she just darling," as Kincaid makes a few self-deprecating comments between pages.

-- On Tuesday night, Jamaica Kincaid read from her work at Tel Aviv University; Judy Lash Balint covered the event for Jewsweek.

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