Archive for August, 2007

Mini-Review: “Brown Girl in the Ring”

I’ve been using my desire to write longer, more detailed reviews/impressions as an excuse to not update my blog. Which of course means that posts languish in Draft status. I figured presenting a short list with some brief thoughts is better than nothing. Here’s the first post in this series:

Brown Girl in the Ring coverNalo Hopkinson came highly recommended from an all too brief acquaintance. What made it all the more unexpected is that I studied Caribbean women authors in college, along with a healthy dose of post-colonial literary criticism. But to learn of this kind of author writing in the sci-fi genre? And later to discover that she, too, was gay? (Right?!) That’s like hitting all of my buttons.

I wonder, even without all these affinities, if I would’ve enjoyed “Brown Girl in the Ring” as much. I think so. The writing is solid, the story is compelling and the voice didn’t come off as gimmicky. (For some reason I just flashed on Merle Hodge’s “Crick Crack Monkey” as another example of authentic-sounding Trinidadian patois.)

Here’s the thing, though: if you asked me why this is science fiction, I couldn’t tell you. But for the post-apocalyptic future setting, it came off to me like a straight up Caribbean diaspora narrative (OK, maybe not so typical, but still).

I’ve actually thought about the various definitions of science fiction lately, because a dear friend has never understood the appeal of it. But she’s interested in finding out. Immediately in my head I started queuing up movies and books to recommend, but quickly discarded them because nuanced gender politics are high on her list. I had to admit that to a newbie with such discerning tastes, most of what came to mind would be dismissed as unimaginatively gendered claptrap.

So I’ve been bookmarking and sending over articles to her on what sci-fi is, broadly. Maybe I should re-read them . Though, in truth, I’m not desperate to pigeon-hole Hopkinson’s first effort.

So much for brief. And I didn’t even write anything about the plot or characters. Oh well. Go read it! I’m gonna look for her second book at the library now.

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