It’s been a while since I last posted a Haul of Books. The following books are pretty much the last ones I have for an independent study I’m doing on Caribbean science fiction. Some of them are probably not actually SF, but I’m going with a fairly loose definition on purpose (otherwise I’d have nothing to talk about, because most Caribbean “SF” isn’t actually SF, but more like science fantasy). Still, the books are interesting, the class should be enlightening, and I might produce a publishable paper and Master’s thesis out of this.
1. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
The Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint celebrates Carnival in traditional fashion, and Tan-Tan, a young reveler, is masked as the Midnight Robber, Trinidads answer to Robin Hood. But after her father commits a deadly crime, he flees with her to the brutal New Half Way Tree, a planet inhabited by violent human outcasts and monstrous creatures known only through folklore. Here, Tan-Tan is forced to reach into the heart of myth and become the legendary heroine herself, for only the Robber Queens powers can save Tan-Tan from such a savage world.
2. Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson
A new collection of short stories from Hopkinson, including “Greedy Choke Puppy,” which Africana.com called “a cleverly crafted West Indian story featuring the appearance of both the soucouyant (vampire) & lagahoo (werewolf),””Ganger (Ball Lightning),” praised by the Washington Post Book World as written in “prose [that] is vivid & immediate,” this collection reveals Hopkinson’s breadth & accomplishments as a storyteller.
3. Whispers From the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction edited by Nalo Hopkinson
The lushness of language and the landscape, wild contrasts, and pure storytelling magic abound in this anthology of Caribbean writing. Steeped in the tradition of fabulism, where the irrational and inexplicable coexist with the realities of daily life, the stories in this collection are infused with a vitality and freshness that most writing traditions have long ago lost. From spectral slaving ships to women who shed their skin at night to become owls, stories from writers such as Jamaica Kincaid, Marcia Douglas, Ian MacDonald, and Kamau Brathwaite pulse with rhythms, visions, and the tortured history of this spiritually rich region of the world.
4. The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
THE NEW MOON’S ARMS is a mainstream magical realism novel set in the Caribbean on the fictional island of Dolorosse. Calamity, born Chastity, has renamed herself in a way she feels is most fitting. She’s a 50-something grandmother whose mother disappeared when she was a teenager and whose father has just passed away as she begins menopause. With this physical change of life comes a return of a special power for finding lost things, something she hasn’t been able to do since childhood. A little tingling in the hands then a massive hotflash, and suddenly objects, even whole buildings, lost to her since childhood begin showing up around Calamity. One of the lost things Calamity recovers is a small boy who washes up on the shore outside her house after a rainstorm. She takes this bruised but cheerful 3-year-old under her wing and grows attached to him, a process that awakens all the old memories, frustrations and mysteries around her own mother and father. She’ll learn that this young boy’s family is the most unusual group she’s ever encountered and they want their son back.
5. The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
Multiple award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson delivers a triumphant novel in the bestselling tradition of such literary greats as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. When three Caribbean slave women gather one night to bury a stillborn baby, their collected mournings braid into a powerful calling, and a deity is born. So begins the epic journey of a spirit who, in a desperate bid to discover her ownnature and identity, defies the limitations of time and place to inhabit the minds of living women throughout history. From Jeanne Duval, the seductive black mistress of 19th-century bohemian poet Charles Baudelaire, to a Nubian prostitute on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 300 A.D., the spirit gathers the power and the wisdom of the ages, only to come full circle on the island of St. Domingue. There, she is reunited with the very women who gave her life, and who still struggle to survive under the tyranny of brutal masters.
And that’s that. So, have you read any of these before? I haven’t, hence my curiosity. Do any of them sound of interest to you? Let me know in the comments.