Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Aspect Fiction, New York, 1998

From my TBR pile.  My second read for R.I.P. VII.  Winner of the Locus Award and the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 1999.

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.


Filed under Books, CanadianBookChallenge6, DarkFantasy, Dystopian, R.I.P. VII, SpeculativeFiction

8 responses to “Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

  1. I have read this book but it didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me… Shame…

    • Brown Girl is Hopkinson’s first novel. I found The New Moon’s Arms has stuck with me over time. She has a new novel out, The Chaos, which I have on my TBR list.

  2. aartichapati

    So Long Been Dreaming sounds like such a fantastic collection! I think it’s probably one I’d buy for my keeper shelf and then take years to read, though (granted, that’s what I do with most books I own). I am interested in Hopkinson as people do talk about her very distinctive voice – I wonder if I’d like that.

  3. I first heard about this author just a few weeks ago for the Diverse Universe blog tour. This book sounds interesting but I think I’ll skip it and read one of her latest works.

    • So glad you’ve discovered Nalo Hopkinson and I can’t wait to see what you think of her work. My favorite is The New Moon’s Arms.

  4. Not heard of this author before reading your review. Intriguing although I don’t think I’d start with this one as it sounds like her later work is maybe better?
    Lynn :D

  5. I heard her read from this book shortly after it was published and she mentioned that she had written it very quickly because she hadn’t expected the publisher’s interest to be so intense, and this helps me make sense of the relative simplicity of its story. Midnight Robber is my favourite, because it’s got so many layers and such a rich story, but I did really enjoy The New Moon’s Arms and understand why you would recommend that one too.

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