Kincaid's work has received mixed reviews, both positive and negative. Some of her overall reactions in the United States were characterized as immediate and enthusiastic. The anger that people felt from her attacking nature in her reading simultaneously lent certain strength to her argument about the postcolonial condition of the Antiguan people by manifesting itself as an authentic and emotional account. She uses her anger about the situation as a way to definitively inform readers about the postcolonial Antiguan daily life. Being an enraged essay focusing on racism and the effects of colonialism, some people account for the most consistent and striking aspect of her work to be what critic Susan Sontag calls her "emotional truthfulness". Sontag describes Kincaid's writing as "poignant, but it's poignant because it's so truthful and it's so complicated. ... She doesn't treat these things in a sentimental or facile way."
In 1988, A Small Place was criticized as a vitriolic attack on the government and people of Antigua. New Yorker editor Robert Gottlieb refused to publish it. According to Jamaica Kincaid: Writing Memory, Writing Back to the Mother she was not only banned unofficially for five years from her home country but she voiced concerns that had she gone back in that time, she worried she would be killed.
Jane King, in A Small Place Writes Back, declared that "Kincaid does not like the Caribbean very much, finds it dull and boring and would rather live in Vermont. There can really be no difficulty with that, but I do not see why Caribbean people should admire her for denigrating our small place in this destructively angry fashion." Moira Ferguson, a feminist academic, argued that as "an African-Caribbean writer Kincaid speaks to and from the position of the other. Her characters are often maligned by history and subjected to a foreign culture, while Kincaid herself has become an increasingly mainstream American writer”