The humane FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS entertains
In ROOM (39.2), Rachel Thompson reviews Nalo Hopkinson’s FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS is a collection of fantastical short stories filled with an innovatory mix of characters grappling with existential and everyday questions—what’s for breakfast? should I bring a child into the world? how did that elephant land in my living room? Written over the course of a decade, many of the stories play well together, sharing a succulent, earthy-otherworldliness that Nalo Hopkinson’s fans know and adore.
Character is king here. Hopkinson always imbues her narratives with awareness of race, class, gender, and privilege that never gets in the way of the story—yet it’s remarkable because it underscores the lack of this awareness in most media. A fierce opening story, “The Easthound” has post-apocalyptic teenagers so fleshed out and intriguing that they blow away the paper-thin “heroes” dominating most YA books and cinema.
Hopkinson’s reframing of The Tempest uses a dual narrative and themes of internallized racism told by now-siblings Ariel and Caliban: “The real storm? Is our mother Sycorax; his and mine. If you ever see her head when she dash at you in anger.” And the story “Old Habits,” situated in a ghost mall, where in the first paragraph the narrator tells us, “This is not going to be one of those stories where the surprise twist is and he was dead!”
All in all, FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS is an entertaining and humane book that affirms why Junot Díaz refers to Hopkinson as “one of our most important writers.”
UPDATE: Ms. Hopkinson regrettably had to cancel her appearance at the St. Martin Book Fair.
As part of the 14th annual St. Martin Book Fair (June 2-4), Nalo Hopkinson and experts from the Forensics Department of the St. Maarten Police headline the St. Martin Book Fair forensics workshop on Saturday, June 4.
It is exactly on a subject like killing where Hopkinson’s world of great fantasy and the forensics world of real crime investigation could clash in sometimes dangerously dramatic, sometimes tragic and captivating ways, or depart with the differences of light years between them, said [Jacqueline] Sample [of the book fair].
[Event coordinator Shujah] Reiph, coordinator Reiph thinks that it’s no exaggeration to say that many people in St. Martin are addicted to forensics crime shows on TV.
“Now when there’s a murder in St. Martin it’s sadly normal to see newspaper and online pictures of police and gendarmes conducting parts of their forensics investigation. But there are other types of crimes that forensics deal with,” said Reiph.
The St. Martin Book Fair forensics workshop will be about “Digital forensics and cyber crime” fighting in St. Martin, said Sample. Those attending the workshop will get to ask the experts in real time about the scientific investigation of this type of crime that uses, for example, social media and the Internet on the island, said Sample.
Nalo Hopkinson will present the commentary at the Presidents Forum, where the science/future-oriented topic will carry the title of, “I will write a story and put myself in it, in this new world.”
“I can’t wait for these two programs,” said Sample. “One could touch on the fantastical worlds of science fiction writing and future thinking. The other is about the meticulous facts that make forensics science so captivating but more importantly rewarding of justice for so many people.” Sample, a criminologist by profession, is an avid reader of science fiction books and murder mysteries.
For more information on FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Chuma Hill
Design by Elizabeth Story