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Interesting Gers: Jamaica Kincaid

March 25, 2010

This weeks interesting ger is Jamaica Kincaid, African American novelist, big time gardener, and convert to Judaism.

Kincaid who is probably most famous for her novels Lucy and Annie John hasn’t spoken much in public about her conversion. I read a number of pieces by Kincaid in college, but never once heard she was Jewish until I started doing research for this Interesting Gers project.  It seems to be a very personal topic for her and she’s been quoted as saying “I don’t know why, but I do feel that God is a private issue.”

I believe, like Martha Nussbaum Kincaid’s conversion arose because of her marriage to a born Jew, in this case, Allen Shawn (of the famous in Manhattan Shawn family), but I could be wrong.

Though Shawn and Kincaid have divorced, Kincaid is still active in her Reconstructionist Shul in Vermont, reading her work at various services. Somehow it seems fitting that a woman who has had a life as interesting as Kincaid’s finds herself at home in a congregation which has an interesting history of its own.

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