A selection of year end reviews and commentary for and about Nalo Hopkinson’s acclaimed FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS.
At WORLD LITERATURE TODAY, Le Moyne College’s Jim Hannan reviews the empathetic Hopkinson’s collection.
In this collection of luminous stories, Nalo Hopkinson writes with an observant intensity that makes her quirky, fantastical worlds palpable. A woman watches an elephant crash its way through her apartment. “Elephants were hairier than she’d thought. Black, straight bristles, thick as needles, sprung here and there from the leathery skin.” Never mind that elephants don’t crash through apartments on the fifteenth floor of urban buildings. We believe in the elephant in part because of the believable mess the elephant leaves behind in the woman’s home: “the scattered textbooks for the course she was glumly, doggedly failing; the crushed vase in a colour she’d never liked, a grudging gift from an aunt who’d never liked her; the destroyed television with its thousand channels of candied nothing.” Enriched by such finely chosen details, this brief, beautiful story becomes a wistful exercise in compassionate longing, as the woman stocks up on containers of lotion that she hopes to apply to the beast’s dry skin should it reappear.
At the heart of Hopkinson’s stories is empathy. In a note to one story, the Jamaican-born Hopkinson writes, “I most certainly felt for Caliban, relegated to the very bottom of the barrel, oppressed by the oppressed in an inescapable chain of contempt. I am similarly a child of historically exploited islands. I know what that shit smells like.” Hopkinson turns her awareness of oppression into sometimes funny and often unsettling stories. In “The Easthound,” children are afraid to reach maturation because as adults they will turn into large, houndlike forms that prey on children. “Message in a Bottle” is a brilliantly eerie story about a visitor from the future trapped in a child’s body who tries unsuccessfully to explain to the narrator just how different human understanding of the world will become. And in “The Smile on the Face,” Gilla, an unpopular “thick girl,” discovers her true power as an ancient tree-residing witch.
Magical and believable, Hopkinson’s stories show us much about inner and outer transformations.
On her PAGES AND PINEAPPLES, Paloma included FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS in her Reading Challenge: The Twelve Books of Christmas.
I rather enjoyed this one. Mixed fantastical elements + diverse characters = a win in my book!
PERPETUAL BABY BAT was tagged to do a book wishlist.
most of these i’ve read already or is currently reading right now I just want the physical copy of it
Their eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans
Being full of light, Insubstantial by Linda Addison
Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS by Nalo Hopkinson
Black Venus by Angela Carter
Rebbeca by Daphne Du Maurier
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
Over at BOOK RIOT, Danika Ellis offered her selection to the Riot Round-Up: The Best Books We Read In December.
BROWN GIRL IN THE RING by Nalo Hopkinson
After reading FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, I was determined to go back and read every book Hopkinson has ever written. BROWN GIRL IN THE RING is her first novel, and it’s a powerful beginning to a body of work. It takes place in dystopian Toronto, but it is just as much about the complicated relationships the women in this family have with each other as it is about organ farms. That’s not even mentioning the pantheon of gods that keep trying to force themselves into Ti-Jeanne’s life, while she has enough on her plate just trying to take care of her baby and avoid her charming but dangerous ex-boyfriend. This novel teems with life and seems to expand beyond its pages. I can’t wait to binge-read the rest of Hopkinson’s back list.
For more information on FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Chuma Hill
Design by Elizabeth Story