Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Moon's Arms: Hopkinson Melds Mermaids and Menopause

The New Moon's Arms
Nalo Hopkinson
Grand Central Publishing
Reviewer: Eva

I put New Moon's Arms in my Caribbean Challenge pool, because of Nymeth’s review of another of [Hopkinson] novels, The Salt Roads. But my library didn’t have that one, so I grabbed this one without even bothering to read a plot summary. You can imagine my delight when it ends up involving mermaids! And magical realism! And the narrator is a middle-aged woman who still has flings with men and wears high heeled shoes! And she’s also completely anti-homosexuality, which comes up quite a bit in the book and is handled so marvelously (the homosexual characters are portrayed sympathetically, while the narrator comes off looking like the homophobe she is, so it’s evident where the author’s opinion lies).

Basically, this book completely and utterly captivated me; usually I read four books at once, rotating every 50 pages, but I read this one straight through. And I’m positive you’ll love it too. It’s intelligent and literary while simultaneously being a fascinating page-turner. It’s different from any book I’ve read this year, and I mean that as a compliment.

I’ll close this post with a brief discussion of my new resolution to read half of my fiction by POC (people of colour) authors, which I made public in last week’s *Sunday Salon. Immediately afterwards, I had a bit of a panic attack, not knowing if I would be able to live up to my goals (and I’m behind in my 25% POC nonfiction one, but this week’s Library Loot will fix that). But I did lots of research and put together a really long, really exciting list. And 6 out of 10 of the novels I read this week fall in the POC category. It’s early, but I already love how much broader my reading horizons feel. And not because it’s the politically correct thing to say, but because my favourite thing about reading is being able to peek into lives of characters that are completely different from me.

I was worried that making such a big resolution would constrict my reading. But it’s done quite the opposite. I was worried I might have to read books that didn’t appeal to me simply because the author was of a certain ethnicity. Instead, I’ve found fantastic sounding books in all of my favourite genres. I was worried that I might read less-than-marvelously-written books simply because of the author’s ethnicity. But I’ve found it’s the exact same as reading white authors-some I love, some I have no interest in reading more of, but that’s ok.

I share this with you in case you’re thinking about making a similar reading resolution but being held back by similar concerns. Many of the POC book reviews I see in the blogosphere are YA lit, which is great, but I don’t personally read a ton of YA. So if you’re the same way, and you’d like a book list to help you read more POC authors, e-mail me (astripedarmchairATgmailDOTcom) and I’ll be more than happy to share mine. :) As I said last week, the more blogs review POC literature, the easier it will be to diversify our reading!
Eva is a 23-year-old bookworm who loves nothing better than an afternoon spent curled up with a mug of tea and a good book. Her tastes are eclectic, but with a definite emphasis towards cultural and geographical diversity. You can find out more about all of the amazing books she reads at her book blog A Striped Armchair. *This review and subsequent commentary previously published.


MissA said...

I'm so glad you're reading more books by POC authors! I review YA, but I KNOW there are a ton of great books out there by POC authors (that I will read just probably not review).
I like the idea of the book (mermaids and magic and men!) but the middle-aged character doesn't really appeal to me.
Thanks for the review and advice for people looking to expand their reading horizons!

Beverly said...

Sorry for the late post but I have been away.
This book was also a welcome surprise to me and turned out to be one of my top 10 reads last year.
I am still recommending this book to others and they all seem to enjoy.