Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Aspect Fiction, New York, 1998
Nalo Hopkinson is Jamaican, now living in Canada. Her novels and stories are filled with Caribbean folklore, history and language. The title comes from a traditional West Indian ring game song.
This dystopian novel takes place in Toronto. The city center has collapsed politically and economically, leaving those who can’t afford to leave, mostly people of color, struggling to survive any way they can. The wealthy population runs to the suburbs and edge cities, areas now protected by barricades and road blocks.
Ti-Jeanne, gifted with visions she does not understand, lives with her new baby and grandmother, Gros-Jeanne. This is a situation she found herself in after running from her lover, Tony, and she is not at all happy with it. Tony has a bad drug habit and is caught up in the Posse, a mob-like organization run by Rudy, a thug and spiritual practitioner. Rudy is the self-proclaimed boss of the central city, running a gang, terrorizing residents and keeping nasty spirits under his control.
In this dark urban fantasy Ti-Jeanne finds herself with ancestors she didn’t know she had and powers she does not really want, but it is up to her to face the spirits and protect her family.
I have read newer works by Hopkinson, and now have a better understanding of her style of fantasy based in Caribbean history . I found some of the patois hard to read, but enjoyed the story. I am looking forward to reading So Long, Been Dreaming, a collecting of Science Fiction and Fantasy she helped edit in 2004.