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Extended Audio Sample See Now Then: A Novel Audiobook, by Jamaica Kincaid Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (194 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jamaica Kincaid Narrator: Jamaica Kincaid Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9781427226501
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In See Now Then, the brilliant and evocative new novel from Jamaica Kincaid—her first in ten years—a marriage is revealed in all it's joys and agonies. This piercing examination of the manifold ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness unfolds gracefully and Kincaid inhabits each of her characters, a Mother and Father, their two children living in a small village in New England, as they move, in their own minds, between the present, the past, and the future—for, as she writes, "the present will be a now then and the past is now then and the future will be a now then." Her characters, constrained by the world, despair in their domestic situations. But their minds wander, trying to make linear sense of what is, in fact, nonlinear. See Now Then is Kincaid's attempt to make clear what is unclear, and to make unclear what we assumed was clear: that is, the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Since the publication of her first short story collection, At The Bottom Of The River, nominated for a PEN / Faulkner Award for fiction, Jamaica Kincaid has demonstrated a unique talent for seeing beyond and through the surface of things. In SEE NOW THEN, she envelops the listener in a world that is both familiar and startling—creating her most emotionally and thematically daring work yet.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Pervasive in See Now Then…is bawdy humor and unabashed rage and sorrow…The theme of time’s inexorable march and how it colors our perspective.”

    USA Today

  • “Writers wish for perfect readers, but readers wish even harder for perfect writers and rarely find them . . . Jamaica Kincaid is about as perfect as it's possible to be. Carolyn See, The Washington Post

  • If a voice could have a texture, Kincaid's would be that of velvet. Musically accented and richly sonorous, her tone is perfect for her latest novel, a story that alternately meanders and leaps, echoes and twists. Sometimes that velvet voice is draped over a deadly fist…Other times the velvet shines with writing that sounds more like poetry than prose. Once the author's rhythm becomes clear to the listener, her distinctive writing style is well suited to the audiobook format. AudioFile Magazine
  • [Kincaid's] soothing Caribbean accent gives this audiobook an appropriately rhythmic and authentic feel…this audio version is read just as the author intended: in her tone, and at the proper pace, and with the proper inflection. This story is a beautiful and heart-wrenching account of a family falling to pieces as it continues to stay together, and Jamaica Kincaid succeeds in presenting it in an interesting and compelling way. New World Review
  • Literary critics that have hailed Kincaid's fiction can add another accolade to the author's list: stellar audiobook narration. In this audio edition of her slender, long –awaited new novel, Kincaid is on secure footing as narrator, her lilting voice giving life to her prose…Kincaid's skill as a raconteur draws listeners into her story. Publishers Weekly
  • Kincaid, who narrates, has a lovely speaking voice. Library Journal
  • The rich, lilting rhythms of Kincaid's voice as she reads her recently published novel, about the exorcism of an unhappy marriage, take us deep inside the writer's tender heart and tropical imagination. More

  • “Kincaid has the gift of endowing common experience with a mythic ferocity…[She] is one of our most scouringly vivid writers.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Chaucer’s Wife of Bath meets Virginia Woolf!…With the intensity of Virginia Woolf, Kincaid creates a palimpsest of time past, time present, and time future…Connoisseurs will find it delicious.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • See Now Then is a hurricane of a book, a novel of psychic bewilderment and seething inaction that relentlessly defines and redefines the sense of otherness and displacement that is the permanent legacy of slavery and colonialism. An existential crisis if there ever was one, Jamaica Kincaid mines it with seriousness, tenderness, and frequently savage humor…With Kincaid, it’s never a matter of what wins, only of what is.”

    Ms. magazine

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Month
  • Winner of American Book Award Winner, 2014
  • Among shortlisted titles for Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Finalist, 2014

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 2/20/2014

    " An acidic incantation of marriage gone rotten. I had to mentally reframe this as revenge-fiction to even see it to completion. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Teresa | 2/20/2014

    " My initial confusion turned to annoyance as I felt the text repeated the same information, dressed up in different phrases. I can respect the strong feelings each family member felt toward another, but was unable to 'feel' them through the narrative. I felt the author was telling me herself rather than letting the characters portray the story. It is rare I leave a book unfinished deliberately, but I just could not finish this, despite returning at 4 different occasions to try, with an open mind. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Scarlett Pierson | 2/17/2014

    " Weird contrived and reading it all the way through did not give me the satisfaction I wanted at the end. I was expecting more and got the same oh crappy divorce ending. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Roy | 2/15/2014

    " This book just did not do it for me. I am a fan of Jamaica Kincaid from previous novels so my hopes and expectations were high. Even had they been low, See Now Then still would have fallen short of them. Nothing that I disliked about it is unintentional. It wasn't a case of poor execution. Kincaid wrote this story in the manner that she did with purpose that simply did not appeal to me. The constant repetition of certain words/phrases did little to lull me in. This is a short novel, coming in at under 200 pages. If the repetition was minimized to a more customary amount, the word count of See Now Then probably would not even qualify for novella status. It would have to make due with categorization as a long short story. There is no plot to speak of. Kincaid's goal is not to tell a tale so much as to invoke a mood. The mood is that of hatred. A man hates his wife, his family, his life. We aren't told why specifically, except towards the end when we're informed that the wife was condescending and mean spirited to a waitress. I suppose there is no why. Once you fall out of love with someone and yearn to be with someone else, anyone else, you feel like a prisoner who of course loathes the jailer. But the narrative isn't about the event with the waitress or any other one in particular. It's about a woman being aware that the man she loves does not love her in return, and eventually he does something about it. And it's about the relativity of time, how Now and Then are basically one and the same, a point repeated ad nauseam. We are made aware of the husband's unhappiness from not much after the first sentence - a very long one, as the vast majority of them are, yet another characteristic that I didn't find endearing. The rest of the book serves only to reinforce this point. Gorgeous language can carry a non plot driven story a long way, but I wasn't so swept away by Kincaid's prose that I didn't notice or care that nothing was really happening. Not externally. Not internally. Not at all. I don't care to what degree this or any other novel may be autobiographical. I only care if I was absorbed by the tale, if I came to care about the characters. I was/did not. This is a subjective opinion, as they all are. You may love this book, and if you do, I promise not to hold it against you. :-) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andie Smith | 2/8/2014

    " I experienced the book as a fictionalized memoir about the failed marriage of an introspective black woman writer from the Caribbean to a son of the legendary editor of The New Yorker, William Shawn. My initial interest was in adding to my knowledge of the characters surrounding the magazine, for which I worked briefly during the 1960s. Admitting my preference for concise, linear writing, I was put off by the author's style -- long, repetitive sentences, looping and rambling through time -- but the book is mercifully short, and I stuck with it because I came to care about the people involved and wanted to find out how Ms Kincaid would resolve her understanding of the sad events the family lived through. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Camille Chidsey | 1/31/2014

    " I don't know why but this book was completely different than I thought it would be. I didn't expect the novel to be so wandering. It was easy to get distracted because of this and despite being a slim novel, it took longer to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Holly Mitchell | 1/26/2014

    " Molly's chapter of "Ulysses" meets "Autobiography of Red." Kincaid's Persephone is sister to Heracles. They are the children of "Girl," no longer a girl, and her husband, Mr. Sweet, a small and bitter man. Recommended. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angela | 1/21/2014

    " I heard a great interview with the author on NPR and was intrigued. Sadly, this book is written in a style that I just couldn't get used to. There were so many run-on sentences and paragraphs that I felt like I was rushing through a story that hadn't even started yet. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carol | 1/17/2014

    " Just too weird for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ann Phelan Phelan | 1/13/2014

    " I couldn't follow it..the writing style drove me crazy..I have read ALL of Ms. Kincaid's books. Having lived in Antigua and having been married to an Antiguan I feel a loyalty and understanding with her writing and experiences...this book, I could not get into..will try another time "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 11/9/2013

    " I wanted to love this book, but I found it depressing and overly introspective. Was it really fiction or just a retelling of an unhappy life? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alison | 7/11/2013

    " I liked this more once I realized it was so autobiographical, but the whole Gertrude Stein stream-of-consciousness thing was wearying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gish Jen | 7/8/2013

    " I liked this a lot more than the reviewers did. Sure Jamaica is over the top hard on her ex, but she's over the top hard on herself, too. No, this isn't her best book, but she is funny and heartbreaking here and, as always, sui generis. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marie Dicocco | 6/19/2013

    " For what I think is the first time in my life, I am putting this book down unfinished. The stream-of-consciousness writing is hard to follow, and it's just too depressing to read at this point in my life. Maybe I will try it again at some later time, but I just could not get into it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nyasha Junior | 4/11/2013

    " intense back and forth family drama #sixwordsummary "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenna Garrett | 4/1/2013

    " Could barely make it through this one- I listened to the audio on a long road trip and the authors reading of it made it even harder to follow than the text version. Not my jam. "

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About the Author

Jamaica Kincaid, born in St. John’s, Antigua, is the author of short stories, novels, and nonfiction. Her 2013 novel See Now Then was a New York Times bestseller. A former reporter for the New Yorker magazine, she is a professor of literature at Claremont-McKenna College in California.