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Skin Folk Paperback – December 1, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson's first collection is Skin Folk, and its 15 stories are as strong and beautiful as her novels.

"The Glass Bottle Trick" retells the Bluebeard legend in a Caribbean setting and rhythms, for a sharp, chilling examination of love, gender, race, and class. In the myth-tinged "Money Tree," a Canadian immigrant's greed sends him back to Jamaica in pursuit of an accursed pirate treasure. In "Slow Cold Chick," a woman must confront the deadly cockatrice that embodies her suppressed desires. In the postapocalyptic science fantasy "Under Glass," events in one world affect those in another, and a child's carelessness may doom them both. The lightest of fantastic imagery touches "Fisherman," a tropically hot tale of sexual awakening, and one of the five original stories in Skin Folk. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

Caribbean folklore informs many of the 15 stories, ranging from fabulist to mainstream, in this literary first short-fiction collection from Nebula and Hugo awards-nominee Hopkinson (Brown Girl in a Ring; Midnight Robber). Notable in the folk-tale vein is "Riding the Red," about Red Riding Hood, now a grandma, and her primal relationship with the wolf. Unlikable protagonists feature in several remarkable stories. In "Greedy Choke Puppy" a bitter woman discards her skin at night and kills children for their life-force. In "Under Glass," set in a postapocalyptic Earth scoured by glass storms, a girl caught outside during a storm realizes what it means to be too hard-hearted. Other stories celebrate life as characters learn to come to terms with what and who they are. In "A Habit of Waste," Cynthia, formerly black but now in a new, white body, brings food to an indigent man, only to discover that he has unexpected resources. "Slow Cold Chick" follows Blaise, the terrified owner of a rapidly growing cockatrice, as she gains the courage to speak her mind. Hopkinson implies that the extraordinary is part of the fabric of day-to-day life. Her descriptions of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinarily circumstances ring true, the result of her strong evocation of place and her ear for dialect. Some stories meander, but underneath them all is a sure grasp of humanity, good and bad, and the struggle to understand and to communicate. Agent, Don Maass. (Dec. 1)Forecast: Though marketed as science fiction, this collection should hand-sell to fans of multicultural fiction. Born in Jamaica, Hopkinson grew up in Guyana, Trinidad and Canada, her current home.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446678031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446678032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Judith W. Colombo on December 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Judith Woolcock Colombo
Hot and spicy with the rhythm of the Caribbean, Skin Folk is a collection of 15 short stories by Jamaican born Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson. These tales are bonded together by a common theme, change or shedding of skin. All is illusion; nothing is, as it first seems within the pages of this book.
Beginning with the first story Riding The Red, we see the illusion being stripped away by this bizarre twist on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Here the elderly Red Riding Hood cautions her daughter to watch her granddaughter who has now begun "to ride the red." This is the time when wolfie comes around to capture and seduce. The grandmother admits "the red hood was mine, to catch his eye," but wolfie also had his dance "all hot breath and leaping flank, piercing eyes to see and strong hands to hold." Encountering wolfie is a natural consequence of riding the red or puberty. It is part of coming of age.
In Money Tree, Silky must reluctantly embrace the heritage of her Mamadjo or mermaid mother in order to save her greedy brother Morgan when he seeks to wrest pirate treasure away from River Mumma. In Something To Hitch Meat To, Artho is given the gift of seeing people and things as they really are by a strange spider-like little girl, and in Under Glass, a young girl living in a post apocalyptic world dooms another world with her careless play.
This concept of illusion and magical change continues throughout the book in stories such as Tan-Tan and Dry Bone where a soft hearted girl has pity on death disguised as a starving old man and takes him home only to learn if you pick him up you pick up trouble..
Although some stories were too similar, others were truly extraordinary. Skin Folk is a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it. ...
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Format: Paperback
Nalo Hopkinson's splendid gifts as a brilliant, often unique, writer of literary fictional prose that is also intriguing fantasy and science fiction are amply shown in this fine collection of short stories. Most of these have been published previously in relatively unknown anthologies in Canada and the United States; two are unpublished, and a third is a chapter from her novel "Midnight Robber". Hopkinson has a splendid ear for dialogue and a marvellous eye for scenery, with a taut, lean prose which effectively captures the Caribbean patois of her childhood. "Skin Folk" is a fascinating look at her artistic growth as a writer; here are stories about demons and ghosts as seen through the eyes of West Indians, along with occasional glimpses of cyberpunk science fiction. One of the most memorable tales is "Greedy Choke Puppy", an incandescent look at Vampire mythology with a uniquely West Indian twist; other compelling tales include "Slow Cold Chick" and "Fisherman" which are intriguing meditations on magic and sex.
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Format: Paperback
Nalo Hopkinson has made waves with some of the most offbeat and creative speculative fiction in recent memory, with her Caribbean roots adding unexpected flavor to tales of future societies and alternate realities. She's also one of the very few black women working in the field, adding a much-needed new voice to the genre. But watch out for the "sci-fi" stereotype that has been applied to Hopkinson, because she has a more well-rounded style that also includes strong elements of fantasy and horror. Those strengths are evident in this collection of short stories, which are often built upon the unique fairy tales and folklore of the Caribbean, but then proceed into all manner of great fictional speculations.

Some of the tales here are rather underdeveloped and move along too quickly, with implausible plot jumps and incomplete conclusions. Examples are "Tan Tan and Dry Bone" which is merely a distilled vignette from one of Hopkinson's later novels; or the potentially terrifying, but rushed and inconclusive, "Greedy Choke Puppy." However the day is saved by winners like "Under Glass," which has a very unique doomsday/dystopia scenario, and great sketches of expatriate Caribbean characters and culture in "Money Tree" and "A Habit of Waste." The apex of the collection is the highly disturbing erotica tale "Ganger (Ball Lightning)," in which a couple learns to overcome malfunctioning and possessed bedroom toys and work out their relationship problems the old-fashioned way. This is in fact one of Hopkinson's best running themes - as technology's got nothing on culture and humanity. [~doomsdayer520~]
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If you enjoy science fiction with a different spin, then you will truly enjoy this book. The use of Caribbean folklore/mythology and science fiction make a great blend. Short stories are quick and easy to read and capture the readers imagination and will bring you into the author's world.
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