The Amazingness of Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson

38811612Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson
| ★★★★★ | released in 2000 |

Do you like people making you be not real?

Oh my god this was brilliant. This short story collection is sci-fi fantasy and has so much to say about gender, and the Gaze, and Nalo Hopkinson’s writing is honest to god so good.

I think Hopkinson sums up this collection quite well in this interview:

As a young reader, mimetic fiction (fiction that mimics reality) left me feeling unsatisfied. The general message that I got from it was “life sucks, sometimes it’s not too bad, but mostly people are mean to each other, then they die.” But, rightly or wrongly, I felt as though I’d already figured that out. I felt that I didn’t need to read fiction in order to experience it.

It’s a use of fantasy and sci-fi as something horrifying, yes, but something that leads to truth, catharsis, release.

I also want to mention before starting these reviews, that I essentially enjoyed every story here: a lot of my four-stars probably could’ve been five stars in any other collection; I just felt weird rating almost every story a five, so I was pickier than I usually would’ve been. My ratings came down to personal taste and I think every single story in this book is worth reading. (Unless you can’t handle Snake, which was one of my favorites but also a lot.)

➽Riding the Red ★★★★★
About a grandmother, a wolf, the question of which is which, and a repeated story, revolving around each year. A haunting introduction.

➽The Money Tree ★★★★☆
About a sister, a brother, a golden table, a river, and the valuation of human life. This was a cool class discussion.

➽Something to Hitch Meat To ★★★★★
A story about reality and the colonial gaze. This was one of my favorites.

➽Snake ★★★★★
A story about justice. This was a lot. The ending is so good. TW, [pedophilia(hide spoiler)]

➽Under Glass ★★★☆☆
A story about a glass wind. One of the most gorgeously written pieces. I don’t think I really got the message of this.

➽The Glass Bottle Trick ★★★★★
A story about womanhood and the power of ghosts and yes, reminded me a lot of Snake. I know what this was inspired by but I don’t want to say because it’s such a cool takeoff you should experience it. TW, [domestic abuse. (hide spoiler)]

➽Slow Cold Chick ★★★★★
A story about a giant bird, queerness, and the voicing of desire. This is so good, one of my absolute favorites.

➽Fisherman ★★★☆☆
A story about gender. This is honestly like, 70% porn. The only one with no fantasy elements, but still feels suited to being here?

➽Tan-Tan and Dry Bone ★★★☆☆
A fairy tale-style story set in the world of Midnight Robber. Love Tan-Tan. I don’t think I got this.

➽Greedy Choke Puppy ★★★★☆
A story about greed, vampirism, and the reality of folklore. Very creepy. Relies about 75% on a twist that I saw coming.

➽A Habit of Waste ★★★★☆
A story about skin liminality, the rejection of the body due to racism and the gaze, and realizing your body can still be correct. I liked this one a lot.

➽And the Lillies-Them A-Blow ★★★★☆
A very haunting story about hearing the song of bones, and about different kinds of death.

➽Whose Upward Flight I Love ★★★☆☆
One page long story about trees. Probably deserves better for what it is — time to read more flash fiction and attempt to understand it, as a genre.

➽Ganger (Ball Lightning) ★★★★★
A story about a futuristic sex toy and submitting to the mortifying ordeal of being known. The gender of it all. I wish this weren’t like, 70% porn, but the ending slapped so hard.

➽Precious ★★★★★
A story about being loved vs. being owned. This was one of my favorites in the book and an absolutely perfect ending.

Have you read Skin Folk or anything else by Nalo Hopkinson? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!watercolor-2087454_960_720Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube | About |

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