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Filter House Paperback – August 1, 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This exquisitely rendered debut collection of 11 reprints and three originals ranges into the past and future to explore identity and belief in a dazzling variety of settings. At the Huts of Ajala, a folktale concerning a girl wrestling with a trickster god before her birth, is full of urgent and delightful imagery, while Wallamelon is an elegaic, sophisticated exploration of the Blue Lady myth. Of the several science fiction stories included, the strongest are Good Boy, an engrossing experiment in computer psychology, African gods and postcolonial anxiety, and Shiomah's Land, a cross-genre bildungsroman involving a girl who becomes the wife of a goddess. The concluding tale, The Beads of Ku, is an utterly arresting, authoritatively delivered tale concerning the diplomacy of marriage and the economy of the land of the dead. The threads of folklore, religious magic, family and the search for a cohesive self are woven with power and lucidity throughout this panorama of race, magic and the body. (Aug.) ""
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From Booklist

In these stories, characters tend to lack power in a traditional sense yet are strong and resourceful in worlds running a gamut from nearly contemporary to the strangest of futures. Beginning with “At the Huts of Ajala,” the story of a girl with two heads, and proceeding to “Wallamelon,” in which watermelon vines protect a neighborhood, magic is drawn from many sources, and magic is disguised as science fiction, as in “Good Boy,” in which a colony is stricken by a mysterious disease and healed by a woman possessed by the spirit of Elegba. The collection ends with the haunting fable “The Beads of Ku,” about Fulla Fulla, a woman who bargains in the marketplace of the city of the dead, and the foolishness of her husband. Shawl’s stories afford fascinating glimpses into the magical underpinnings of worlds springing from all sorts of places within the world we all know. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Aqueduct Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933500190
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933500195
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Call Nisi Shawl's stories curvy fiction, call them slipstream, call them speculative--they're all grounded in experience. In Shawl's stories, calling upon an African goddess is no more speculative than hailing a taxi. In Shawl's realities, imagination is a force to be reckoned with and the universe is teeming with life and spirit and desire.

"Filter House" is aptly named for the structure a minuscule sea creature secretes around itself and that filters the sea for the creature's food. Food, dwelling, the implied hearth and heart that is fed--all these describe Shawl's stories. Her characters are closely observed, and gain quick traction in the friction of the real.

The real, here, is animated, alive, and Shawl's sentences weave a rhythm that gives voice to (secret?) desires--for divine intervention, for allies and challengers in rocks and trees, for love and imagination to be made simple and practical. Her stories' trajectories are wonderfully entertaining but her sentences are magical. With dialog and observation, Shawl manages to frequently prick through the veil between reader and writer, bringing her characters alive in a delightfully synchronous world.
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Format: Paperback
Filter House is the secret best book of the Summer. It has no business being left in the warehouse when you could buy it read, give it to your best friend, or read to your children. These are a selection of entertaining and complex stories, filled with fantasy, love, and discovery. This is definitely a book club and reading group book! Shawl wrote of many things, giving you something to talk about.

The professional reviewers have focused on "Wallamellon" with reason. It is completely charming; full of twists and turns. "At the Huts of Ajala," "Good Boy," "Shiomah's Land," and all the rest of the stories pull you into the story, whisking you away to a new land and a new way of looking at the world. When I mention one story, I think of another that is fabulous, too. My personal favorite is "The Beads of Ku." It should become a classic. This book is suitable for young adult readers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very well written! I enjoyed reading her short stories very much. Her stories have intriguing plots and characters that I could connect to. Image rich and emotionally meaningful. I am really surprised that Nisi Shawl has not received more recognition from the outside, non-science fiction world!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nisi Shawl's writing mesmerizes with lyrical depth. Her otherwordly creatures struggle with human emotions and lend us new perspective on our own interior journeys. Highly recommend.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So good! And so different from anything I've read before. Each story in this collection is like a new book but the Shawl's voice carries through it all beautifully.
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