Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Nalo Hopkinson's "Brown Girl in the Ring"

Professor Kim Pearson suggested several works for the series on fiction that can help us understand structural racism:
My suggestion would be Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring. This dystopic novel is set in a future Toronto, Canada that has seen so much disinvestment and violence that the entire city government and most of the population has evacuated. The only people left are the poor, the sick and the predatory. We soon learn, however, that there is a symbiotic relationship between the power elite that has abandoned the city and the gangsters who remain behind to plunder at will. The heroine of the novel has to draw upon the wisdom of both her ancestral Afro-Caribbean culture and her modern scientific knowledge to lead the fight to save herself and her community.

The only classic author whom I would add to [the titles already named in the series] is Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man) . I also like Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.
Brown Girl in the Ring was published and promoted with glowing testimonials from science fiction writers like C. J. Cherryh, Tim Powers and Octavia E. Butler, praise that was well deserved according to Gerald Jonas writing in the New York Times.

Click here for an interview with Nalo Hopkinson and click here for her blog.

Kim Pearson is Associate Professor in the English Department at The College of New Jersey. She received a B.A. from Princeton and an M.A. in Journalism from New York University. Named the New Jersey CASE Professor of the Year in 2000, she teaches writing for journalism and interactive multimedia majors, as well as a course on W.E.B. DuBois. Her writing about race, religion, and sexuality has appeared in many freelance outlets and in her blog, Professor Kim's News Notes.

Thanks to Kim for the recommendations.

--Marshal Zeringue