by Nisi Shawl
|$18.00 (paperback) ||
with an Introduction by Eileen Gunn
Co-winner of the 2008 James Tiptree, Jr. Award
finalist for the 2009 World Fantasy Award
"Baby, baby, baby! Baby, baby, baby!" Cousin Alphonse must have
thought he looked like James Brown. He looked like what he was,
just a little boy with a big peanut head, squirming around, kicking
up dust in the driveway. Oneida thought about threatening to tell
on him for messing his pants up. Even Alphonse ought to know
better. He had worn holes in both his knees, begging "Please,
please, please" into the broken microphone he'd found in
Mr. Early's trash barrel. And she'd heard a loud rip the last time
he did the splits, though nothing showed. Yet.
The collection's fourteen tales offer a
haunting montage that works its magic subtly on the reader's
subconscious. As Karen Joy Fowler says, "This lovely collection will take
you, like a magic carpet, to some strange and wonderful places."
"From the exotic,
baroque complexities of 'At the Huts of Ajala' to the stark, folktale
purity of 'The Beads of Ku,' these fourteen superbly written stories will
weave around you a ring of dark, dark magic."
Ursula K. Le Guin, author of Lavinia
story-bazaar, offering treasures and curios from diverse lands of wonder."
Matt Ruff, author of Set This House In Order and Bad Monkeys
uses the tools of future and fable, usually used to explore the other, the
future, and the mysterious, to magically reveal what and who we all are
here and today."
Tobias Buckell, author of Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin
"Sometimes enigmatic, often surprising, always
marvelous. This lovely collection will take you, like a magic carpet, to
some strange and wonderful places."
Karen Joy Fowler, author of At Wit's End and The Jane Austen Book Club
"Remarkably involving stories that pull you along a path of wonder, word by
word, in worlds where everything is a bit different."
Eileen Gunn, author of Stable Strategies
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.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
"Nisi Shawl tells stories as if she has just awakened from a vivid and
terrifying dream, and she's intent on relating its details. She strings
her plots loosely onto frameworks of otherworldly logic, and she makes no
attempt to explain why things are the way they are. [...] Her stories are
part fairy tale and part nightmare, and they bristle with references to
real-life problems, like racism and poverty. [...] Shawl's stories are for
the reader who relishes that bone-deep shiver of a grisly ghost story. And
they're perfect for the reader who wants to be left scratching her head
—and peering over her shoulder — at the end of each tale."
Haley Edwards, The Seattle Times, June 6, 2008 (read the whole
ISBN: 978-1-933500-19-5 (13 digit)
Publication Date: 2008
paperback 288 pages