Sunday Book Review: Nalo Hopkinson's "The New Moon's Arms"

This Tuesday Nalo Hopkinson will be launching her new book The New Moon's Arms at the Victory Café behind Honest Ed's on Bloor West.

For those of you who may not know who I'm talking about, Nalo Hopkinson is an author living in Toronto who writes in a genre that's hard to pin down and who has had many labels attached to her.

Some of the labels that have included; Canadian writer, Caribbean writer, black writer and woman writer. In the FAQ section of her website, Nalo tells us that she thinks of herself as "All the above, and more. All those identities are very important to me. I don't need to claim just one."

Her books are just as difficult to label. Her first couple novels were labelled science fiction, I'm not sure what people labelled her last one, and the publisher has identified the most recent release - The New Moon's Arms - as "mainstream magical realism".

I had very high expectations for The New Moon's Arms , and it still managed to exceed them.

You know that saying "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me"? Well, as clichéd a saying as it is, that's exactly what this book did for me.

I was totally and utterly engaged, the book was a part of my everyday thoughts while I was reading it, and is still there now that I've finished it. The characters wormed their way into me and I found myself planning my day around when I might be able to read next so I could find out more about them and their lives.

I am cautious about answering the question "what is the book about?" because the truth is I think what a book is "about" changes from reader to reader. Having said that, I think it's safe to say that this is a book about change; changing relationships, physical changes, changes in awareness, and so on.

Here are the basics: the book is set in the Caribbean in a fictional place called Cayaba It follows Calamity (née Chastity) as she buries her father, begins menopause, re-discovers an ability to "find" things (things lost long ago suddenly appear with each hot flash), takes in a foster child and deals with the consequences of all these changes.

I mentioned that it is labelled "magical realism" and, although I'd never heard of that as a genre, it's the perfect description of the melding of what we traditionally accept as 'real life' with a touch of something a bit magical and fantastical.

Treat yourself and head over to Victory Café on Tuesday for the launch of this new work and buy a copy for yourself. As you can tell, I enjoyed this book more than anything I've read in a long while.

Details if the launch:

When: The event is Tuesday February 27th from 6-8pm

Where: Victory Café, 581 Markham Street (Behind Honest Ed's on Bloor Street West)

How: If you're planning on going it would be appreciated if you could RSVP to Janis Ackroyd at janis.ackroyd@hbfenn.com since the venue is an intimate space with potentially limited capacity.

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