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Jamaica Kincaid's brother Devon Drew died of AIDS on January 19, 1996, at the age of thirty-three. Kincaid's incantatory, poetic, and often shockingly frank recounting of her brother's life and death is also a story of her family on the island of Antigua, a constellation centered on the powerful, sometimes threatening figure of the writer's mother. My Brother is an unblinking record of a life that ended too early, and it speaks volumes about the difficult truths at the heart of all families.
My Brother is a 1997 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.
care of him, but this became another example of the extraordinary ability of her love for her children to turn into a weapon for their destruction. My mother lives with her male children, who by now are in their thirties, or rather, my mother’s male children, by now in their thirties, live with her. It is an important distinction. My mother would not subordinate herself in any way to anyone, especially not her children. She would not live with anyone; they would live with her; if she were to
kind of draft exists in a place that is hot all the time? There was another reason for him going to live with her. The oldest of her three sons had been living in the other shack behind her house, and his living quarters were really just pieces of galvanize all nailed together with one opening, which was the door. The structure that my sick brother had lived in resembled an actual house; it had three windows and the windows had working shutters, it had a door that could be bolted. When my brother
would not live; I only wanted him to do one or the other and then leave me alone. I did not kiss him goodbye when I was returning home to my family, I did not give him a goodbye hug. I said to him at the end of my visit (four days), Goodbye, and he said, So this is it, no hug no nothing? (and he said it in that way, in conventional English, not in the English that instantly reveals the humiliation of history, the humiliations of the past not remade into art); and I said, Yes, this is it,
might be able to relieve with medicine I had brought from the prosperous North; but I did not know then, I only know now. And in this Now, I can understand why a man, a teacher, though not an old teacher, would want to take him on a journey to Trinidad, just the two of them together, and my brother not being able to pay his own way was no hindrance to this plan; but this whole incident of the teacher—a man—who wanted to take him on a trip, a holiday, the why of it, is clear to me now, the why
dying of AIDS.” But my announcing it to this woman led to something. She told me of a doctor in Antigua who she said was always on the radio or television talking about the danger of AIDS, how it could be contracted and how to avoid contracting it. He was considered the leading authority in Antigua in regard to this disease (though in fact he was the only doctor in Antigua who was publicly involved with this disease). She said his name was Dr. Ramsey. The next day I looked him up in the telephone