This essay endeavors to clarify the paradoxes of Jamaica Kincaid's grief in her AIDS memoir,
My Brother(1997). By analyzing two related motifs—the memoir's pattern of botanical metaphors and the descriptions of her brother Devon's dying and of his corpse—the essay explores how Kincaid's melancholic commitment to Devon complicates her approach to biographical and autobiographical writing. Weighed down and consumed by her brother's affliction, Kincaid traces how Devon—or, rather, her memory of him—possesses independent powers of articulation, forcing her to confront her own implication, as a relatively privileged expatriate writer, in the political, social, and economic contexts that shape his suffering. A self-theorizing text that testifies to the changing demographics of the AIDS pandemic, My Brotheralso overlaps with and significantly redirects current theoretical understandings of mourning and melancholia, through its relocation of melancholic subjectivity at the intersection of postcolonial and racial anxieties.