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Whispers from the Cotton free Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction.

Whispers from the Cotton free Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction edited by Nalo Hopkinson Invisible Cities Press, March 2001, $14.95, ISBN 0-967-96832-1

Fables are an integral part of the Caribbean consciousness. Yet, editor Nalo Hopkinson (author of Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber) believes Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root is "the first time an anthology of Caribbean literature has sought to use expressions of the fantastical as its central theme." And how well it does it. Hopkinson uses the central image of the cotton tree (ceiba pentandra)--huge, majestic and traditionally associated with spirits--to bring together stories of the supernatural, "written" as she notes in her introduction, "from within a Caribbean or Caribbean diasporic context."

In answer to her call to "Bring out your duppie and jumbie tales; skin-folk flights of fancy; rapsofuturist fables; your most dread of dread talks" Hopkinson received a variety of material, ultimately presenting twenty pieces in seven sections from writers primarily from Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. Each section, including titles such as "`Membah" "The Broad Dutty Water" and "Crick Crack and Dream" is given a short introduction, providing valuable information for readers. From "What the Periwinkle Remember" by Marcia Douglas to "My Mother" by Jamaica Kincaid, some of the stories are funny; others satirical, some hair-raising, some absurd, and a few so deep they require rereads. Yet each possesses its own special magic. Other writers in the collection include Wilson Harris, Claude-Michel Prevost, Olive Senior, Pamela Mordecai, Ian McDonald and Kamau Brathwaite.

With an increasing number of black writers embracing the genre of science/speculative fiction, Whispers is a timely anthology. Hopkinson has done a wonderful job pulling together such great writing by mostly notable and award-winning authors.

Denolyn Carroll is a freelance writer who lives in New York.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Carroll, Denolyn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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