Antiguan novelist, essayist, and gardening expert whose fiction and non-fiction works often explore themes of colonialism, imperialism, and racism. Her novels include Lucy (1990) and Mr. Potter (2002), and her non-fiction works include A Small Place (1988) and My Garden Book (2001).
She grew up in poverty in Antigua and later worked in Westchester, New York as an au pair. Before beginning her literary career, she briefly attended Franconia College in New Hampshire.
She converted to Judaism.
She was born Elaine Potter Richardson and changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid upon the publication of her first work. She married Allen Shawn, with whom she had two children: Harold and Annie.
She and Jim Carroll both published their work in The Paris Review.