Mr. Potter (novel)

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Mr. Potter
Author Jamaica Kincaid
Country Antigua
Language English
Genre Novella; Memoir
Publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 195 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 0-374-21494-8 (first edition, hardback)
LC Class 2002100819

Mr. Potter (2002) is a novel by Antiguan born writer Jamaica Kincaid. The book has twelve parts with no title and the author narrates how it is to be a girl that grew without having a father and how this fact reflected on her. Prose and poem are mixed in this memoir, so the genre is very difficult to define. The author narrates the story in a way that time and space are all blurred as we get totally immersed in her flashbacks. The circular style with powerful metaphors and repetitions is part of Kincaid’s way of writing, which keeps the reader more and more involved with the story. It is a quest for legacy, for forgiveness and identity that changes at the end, where we realize that this is not the story of her father at all, but it is her story instead, or should we say history?

Mr. Potter is a nobody, but he is also Elaine's/Kincaid's father. Kincaid plays with dichotomies just for us to realize that it is not always easy to remember, to accept or to forgive. He cannot write, but Elaine can, and she is his daughter, and Kincaid goes on and on with this simplistic reasoning that little by little becomes not simple at all. It is like we are remembering everything together with her, bits and pieces of memory that are deep inside. The trauma of not having her father around envelops us readers and echo through her discourse.

The book has no chapter division, which gives us more the idea that there is neither a beginning nor an end. The book starts and ends in the same way, and yet nothing is the same, everything is different. By acknowledging that Mr. Potter was her father, Elaine's legacy changes too. When Mr. Potter died, a part of her died with him too. Even though "Mr. Potter could not read nor write, he could not understand himself, he could not make himself known to others",[1] his daughter Elaine could. Kincaid/Elaine is the voice of those who, like Mr. Potter can’t read or write, the ones that are voiceless.


  1. ^ [KINCAID, Jamaica. Mr. Potter. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002]

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