In this travel memoir, the acclaimed novelist Jamaica Kincaid chronicles a three-week trek through Nepal, the spectacular and exotic Himalayan land, where she and her companions are gathering seeds for planting at home. The natural world and, in particular, plants and gardening are central to Kincaid’s work; in addition to such novels as Annie John and Lucy, Kincaid is the author of My Garden (Book): a collection of essays about her love of cultivating plants and gardens throughout her life. Among Flowers intertwines meditations on nature and stunning descriptions of the Himalayan landscape with observations on the ironies, difficulties, and dangers of this magnificent journey.
For Kincaid and three botanist friends, Nepal is a paradise, a place where a single day’s hike can traverse climate zones, from subtropical to alpine, encompassing flora suitable for growing at their homes, from Wales to Vermont. Yet as she makes clear, there is far more to this foreign world than rhododendrons that grow thirty feet high. Danger, too, is a constant companion—and the leeches are the least of the worries. Unpredictable Maoist guerillas live in these perilous mountains, and when they do appear—as they do more than once—their enigmatic presence lingers long after they have melted back into the landscape. And Kincaid, who writes of the looming, lasting effects of colonialism in her works, necessarily explores the irony of her status as memsahib with Sherpas and bearers.
A wonderful blend of introspective insight and beautifully rendered description, Among Flowers is a vivid, engrossing, and characteristically frank memoir from one of our most striking voices.