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NOVEMBER 21

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Jamaica Kincaid writes with brutal, unflinching honesty about things the rest of us can barely bring ourselves to think of in passing. Her most recent book, My Brother, is a memoir chronicling her brother’s death from AIDS last year. In it, she meanders aimlessly in thought, connecting faraway memories to the present with details that seem to arrive from out of the blue. Then, as she describes her brother’s dying body, the ravages of disease become painfully clear. Kincaid in person, however, is often evasive, defensive, and frustratingly noncommittal. When fans ask her to clarify that fine line between fiction and autobiography, she pleads the author’s fifth: “It’s not me, it’s a character.” Don’t ask her about her mother: She may bypass the question entirely and talk instead about raising her own children. If you ask about life in Antigua, she might respond with a description of the front yard of her Vermont home. This kind of behavior isn’t unusual for writers, but Kincaid walks the line between public and private with uncommon mastery. Much to her dismay, though, it seems this aloofness makes her all the more intriguing. At 8 p.m. at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. $13. For reservations call (202) 544-7077. (Holly Bass)