Canada Reads 2008: Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Filed under: Canada Reads — Ibis at 1:23 pm on Sunday, January 6, 2008

From the back cover:
“The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways—farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.
She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.”

Other useful links:
Nalo Hopkinson writes about working on Brown Girl in the Ring
a video of the Boney M. version of the ring game song

My thoughts:
It was an ok book (especially for a first-time author writing the whole thing in two months) but it wasn’t a masterpiece by any means. I’ll be interested to see why Jemeni chose it over all the hundreds (thousands really) of Canadian books she could have championed. The rationale for the dystopian state of Toronto is quite far-fetched: I can’t believe that the federal or provincial governments would fail to provide enough funds for the general maintenance of the city and just block it off while life goes on as normal outside. To me, that part was more incredible than the zombies and spirits!

Apart from that, I did really have fun with the Caribbean dialect and enjoyed the story itself, though I imagine the more horrific parts would be difficult to read for someone with more sensitivity to depictions of violence.

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