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Extended Audio Sample See Now Then: A Novel, 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:
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In See Now Then, a marriage is revealed in all its 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, 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

  • “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

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. :-) "

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