JAMAICA Kincaid's writing ''helped me understand what it means to plant and grow,'' the artist says, '' in a postcolonial sense.'' They've now collaborated on '' An Encyclopedia of Gardening for Colored Girls.''

.-  What books are on your night stand?

'' A Scanner Darkly,'' Philip K.Dick; '' Trust,'' Hernan Diaz.

.-  What's the last great book you read?

So Loaded! Lots of books are great. I listened to William Gibson's '' Neuromancer '' last summer because I had never gotten around to reading it when I should have.

I see why and how it has informed a huge component of contemporary culture. I also just finished '' The Fraud, '' by Zadie Smith. She takes some big literary swings there. Loved it.

.-  What was the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

How to skin a man alive.

.-  From working on the new book?

No -ha-ha that was from Murakami, '' The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle .'' I decided to relisten to the audio book because my friend June Leaf reminded me about the skinning part.

.-  Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was a big fan of the '' Peanuts '' gang, but also '' Donnesbury'' cartoons. I loved [ and still love ] Zilpha Keatley Snyder's '' The Egypt Game '' and E.I. Konigsburg's '' Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth,'' which had the one character I most identified with, a Black girl [ Jennifer ] who claimed to be a witch, as I also did.

.-  Do you have a favorite Jamaica Kincaid book or story? Why is it a favorite?

Her short story ''Girl'' - for being curt, concise and deeply human. '' My Garden [Book] '' has helped me to understand what it means to plant and grow and what such activities might mean in a postcolonial sense.

.-  What makes a good art catalog?

Size and shape. Editing. Good quality paper. It really shouldn't be a doorstop.

Should have a legible and informative prose. When you see the spine it should make you want to see what's inside.

.-  Have you ever gotten in trouble for reading a book?

When we moved to Georgia in 1983, I was in ninth grade, so in lieu of studying or making friends or learning the ropes of high school, I took German with other nerds and then spent my time in class reading Alice Walker's '' The Color Purple'' under my desk. I think I finished the book before I was caught, though.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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