Sunday, June 8, 2008

Nisi Shawl's Filter House-- the first reviews

The first two reviews of Nisi Shawl's collection are hot off the press. Tomorrow's edition of Publishers Weekly gives it a starred review:

(Starred) Filter House Nisi Shawl. Aqueduct, $18 paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-933500-19-5 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.

The Seattle Times has also reviewed it in today's paper. Here's an excerpt:

Shawl, who reviews science fiction for The Seattle Times, explores a world that is both sinister and whimsical. Monsters aren't always lurking in the closet, but they're there often enough that you hold your breath before opening the door each time. Her characters are mostly women — little girls, grandmothers and nannies — who see the world differently than those around them. They know secrets, and they have visions. They are sexual, self-possessed and curious, and that makes them powerful. In one story, "The Water Museum," the main character is a woman who picks up a hitchhiker. She can tell immediately that he is an assassin, sent to murder her. But because she knows who he is, she toys with him, as a cat might gleefully torture its prey. "I have a sneaky suspicion this one might turn out to be interesting," says the woman, after locking the hitchhiker into a room. "When he's good and ready."

Read the whole review here. And of course you can always buy Filter House directly from Aqueduct.

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