Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twity - 2017

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty. 2017 -464 Pages - narrative non-fiction.

2018 James Beard Foundation Book of The Year

An Autodidactic Corner Selection

This is an essential book for anyone interested in African American culinary history but there is so much more awaiting readers of Michael W. Twitty’s book.  It is an exciting account of how he employed DNA based ancestral testing to uncover the ethnic background of his ancestors.  He goes into a lot of details on the challenges found in attempting to do ancestral research for persons whose ancestors were slaves in the old south.  He found himself about 25 percent European and 70 percent from various parts of Africa with The rest Native American.   He faces directly the rape of slave women that produced this.  We see How he accepts himself as Gay and converts to Judaism.

Among the many food crops that came from Africa as detailed by Twitty are okra, corn, various types of rice, yams, sweet potatoes, collard greens, kale, turnips, field peas and black eyed peas.  Slave traders brought seeds for these crops to feed the slaves on items they were familiar with.  Enslaved women cooked not just for themselves but their owners.  Thus these crops became the staples of southern whites.  Slaves were commonly allowed vegetable gardens.  Some rich plantation owners sent male cooks to France to be trained.  Slaves skilled in Rice farming were highly priced.

Chickens followed by pigs were a big part of The cuisine.  Through hunting, aligators, possum and deer were part of The diet. Fishing was very important.

Twitty talks about The impact of heavy consumption of so called “Soul Food” on health, leading to high blood pressure diabites.  He explains How greens, peas, sweet potatoes can be very healthy.

I learned a lot about The different African kingdoms from which slaves were taken in The largest forced migration in history.  Using examples from his own Family history he shows us The horror of life as slave.  Most of The book deals with The old south but sugar plantations are covered also.

Twitty includes a number of recipes.  He goes into Gullah culture also, one of my interests.  

There is so much of interest in this book.  It is a history of The culinary history of the old South.

Twitty loves his subject and it shows.  I give this book my complete endorsement.

“Michael W. Twitty is a noted culinary and cultural historian and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. He has been honored by as one of the twenty greatest food bloggers of all time, and named one of the “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living and one of the “Five Cheftavists to Watch” by Twitty has appeared throughout the media, including on NPR’s The Splendid Table, and has given more than 250 talks in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in Ebony, the Guardian, and on He is also a Smith fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a TED fellow and speaker, and the first Revolutionary in Residence at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Twitty lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.” From The publisher

Mel u

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym - 1953

 Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym - 1953

“Once outside the magic circle the writers became their lonely selves, pondering on poems, observing their fellow men ruthlessly, putting people they knew into novels; no wonder they were without friends.” 

 Barbara Pym, Jane and Prudence

Works by Barbara Pym I have so far read 

Some Tame Gazelle - 1950

Excellent Women - 1952

Earlier in the month I acquired four more of her novels, in Kindle Editions, for $1.95 each.  Besides Jane and Prudence, t A Glass of Blessings, Less Than Angels and No Fond Return of Love.

Barbara Pym 

Born - June 13, 1913 - Oswestry, England

Died - January 11, 1980 - Oxford, England 

Barbara Pym is among the best chroniclers of a now lost, maybe lost when she was writing, world of curates, vicars and women whose lives are bound up the social world of post World War Two England, with rationing, the return of service men and endless meeting for tea. No one has children out of wedlock, of course. Many have small “private incomes”.

 Jane and Prudence centers on The  relationship of Jane, a forty year old vicar’s wife and Prudence, twenty nine and single. Jane was Prudence’s tutor at Oxford and they have stayed good friends.

Jane’s husband Nicholas has just take over as a Vicar in small community.  We see their efforts to get to know the parrisioners.  Of course having teas are a big factor.

Prudence works for an academic foundation of some sort. She is infatuated with the married Director who has never shown any reciprocal interest.  There are two other women employed and one man.  We never learn the precise purpose of the foundation.

Prudence has had a few  romances but Jane thinks she should be married before she becomes a spinster. She attempts to set up a relationship with Prudence and Fabian Driver, a widower with a reputation as a womanizer, having cheated on his late wife.  There is also a rival for Fabian.

This is a very funny novel with marvelous character development.   I was very struck by How Pym used adverbs to characterize something said and define a conversation.

 I greatly enjoyed Jane and Prudence.I will next read her A Glass of Blessings.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Barbizon - The New York Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren - 2021-

 The Barbizon - The New York Hotel That Set Women Free - by Paulina Bren - 2021- 

My thanks to Buried in Print for this suggestion

I received a review copy of this book about six months ago.  I had intended to read it shortly after obtaining it but things got away from me as they do.  The is is a first  rate work on narrative non-fiction entering on life in a for women only hotel in New York City, The Barbizon.

The Barbizon Hotel, 23 stories, open in 1927 as a residential hotel for women.  Many young women wanted to try a career in the New York City but could get parental assent and support only if they stayed at the Barbizon.  There were several places to eat, a book shop, a lobby to meet dates (no men allowed in the rooms) a venue for preforming, a protective door man and places to socialize.  Many residents saw it as like their college sororities, a place with instant friends.

A lot of the book is taken up with the relationship of the hotel and the highly prestigious Glamour Magazine Guest Editor Program in which from 1000s of applications from College students twenty women were selected to spend the month of June as guest editors. All the guest editors were required to stay at the Barbizon Hotel.  Sylvia Plath is featured in two chapters.  I did not know her novel The Bell Jar was based on her time at the Barbizon.  A number of the characters are based on other guest editors.  Bren tells us there were about fifty suicides at The Barbizon  over the years.  Grace Kelly stayed there a while.  We learned some interesting details on her Life.  

The Gibbs Secretarial School students occupied three floors for several years.  Some residents stayed over forty years. Even when The hotel converted to a Condo in 2006( at a million Plus a unit) 14 elderly residents stayed on protected by rent control laws.

In 1981 hotel began to admit men. In 2004 the hotel Under went a $40 million dollar reservation.

I throughly enjoyed this book.  

Paulina Bren alternates her time between the Bronx, Poughkeepsie, and MetroNorth. Born in the former Czechoslovakia, she lived in the U.K. before moving to the United States. Paulina received her B.A. from Wesleyan University, her M.A. from the Jackson School for International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, and her Ph.D. in Modern European History from New York University. 

She is the recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the National Council of East European and Eurasian Research (NCEEER), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and the Fulbright-Hays. She has held residencies at the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University, the Institute for Advanced Study in Budapest, and the American Academy in Berlin. She teaches in International Studies, Women’s Studies, and Media Studies at Vassar College


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Piranesi by Susanne Clarke - 2020 - A Novel - 249 Pages

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke - 2020 - A Novel - 249 Pages 

Winner 2021 Women’s Fiction Award 

A marvelous Review in The Guardian 

An illuminating post from 

A conversation with Madeline Miller (author of Circe and The Song of Achiles) in which she talks to Susanna Clarke about Piranesi

As I finished Piranesi I wondered  what can I say about my Love for this book that would  not sound totally hyperbolic.  I have been under government mandated lockdown  in Metro Manila for 560 days.  If i could keep Reading books like Piranesi then let day 1000 come.  

The items I have linked above do a much better job describing the World constructed in Piranesi than I could.  

As began to wander around in the structure that is Piranisi’s world, he is the narrator I thought what can this mean?  We see seemingly near endless corridors with thousands of unique statues.  There is even an Ocean contained in the edifice, with birds of all sorts.  The story is relayed as a series of journal entries by Piranesi. At first Piranesi  thinks  there is only one other person, he calls him “The Other”.  He things over time fifteen others lived inside.  He knows “Piranesi” is not his real name, The Other named him.

He gradually discovers there maybe a third person.  The Other acknowledges this warns him the third person will try to kill him.  As I Marvel at the creative power behind this I begin to see many possible symbolic readings.

Then about one third into the novel it turned for me into a spellbinding slowly unraveling account of who Piranesi really was, How he got inside and much more.  I was totally captivated it was just so interesting.  A World outside The structure evolves for us, inhabited by strange, fascinating, sinister, intellectual beings I found fascinating.

“Susanna Clarke’s debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. It won the British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year, the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award in 2005. Susanna Susanna Clarke is also the author of the short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Piranesi was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, and was awarded Audies Audiobook of the Year, shortlisted for the British Book Awards Audiobook of the Year, the Costa Novel Award, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the RSL Encore Awards, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Awards, the British Science Fiction Association’s Best Novel, the Bloggers Book Award; was a finalist for the Goodreads Fantasy Book of the Year, the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction and the Locus Awards; and was longlisted for the 2021 Booktube Prize. Susanna Clarke lives in Derbyshire.”  From The book

Monday, September 20, 2021

Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food- Recipes, Remedies, and Simple Pleasures by Fred Opie - 2015 - 167 Pages

 Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food- Recipes, Remedies, and Simple Pleasures by Frederick  Opie - 2015 - 167 Pages 

Zora Neale Hurston 

Born - January 7, 1891. - Natasulag, Alabama 

1937- Their Eyes Were Watching God published 

Dies - January 28, 1960 - Fort Pierce, Florida 

Fred Opie, drawing on the fiction and anthropological studies of Zora Neale Hurston, has produced a very interesting highly informative account of the food heritage of African Americans in Florida.  Both of Hurston’s parents were born enslaved.  Hurston attended on a scholarship the very prestigious Bernard College.  While at Bernard she conducted ethnographic research under the noted anthropologist Franz Boaz. She also worked with Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead.  She applied the methods she learned to field studies in Florida and Haiti.  Opie details why he found her an ideal subject to center a study of the African American food heritage of Florida upon.

Opie gives us an elegant intriguing synopsis of his efforts:

“There is enormous variety in American cookery. This book focuses on Florida cooking in Zora Neale Hurston’s early twentieth-century ethnographic research and writing. It emphasizes the essentials of cookery in Florida through simple dishes. It considers foods prepared for everyday meals as well as special occasions and looks at what shaped the eating habits of communities in early twentieth-century Florida. It investigates African, American, European and Asian influences in order to understand what they contributed to Florida’s culinary traditions.”

Opie begins with a chapter on corn bread.  No proper African American meal was complete without corn bread.  It was used to soak up the liquids remaining in pots of various stews.  Called “Pot Liquor” etiquette required it be soaked up with corn bread.  Here is his recipe for Collard Greens

“Collard Green Recipe - Collard greens and Bacon 

Wash collard leaves. They should not be too old and coarse. Cut finely. Boil until extremely tender, a matter of at least an hour, preferably longer—they can scarcely be cooked too long, and are equally good “warmed over”—in enough water barely to cover, with several thin slices of white bacon to each market bunch of the leaves. The water should almost cook away, leaving a delicious broth known to the South as “pot liquor.” Cornbread is always served with collard greens and it is etiquette to dunk the cornbread in the pot liquor.”

Fried chicken was very important in African American traditions.  Cooked by women and raised at home, chicken was the everyday main dish.  Opie devotes a chapter to barbecue as a food and as a social event.  African Americans often could not afford doctors so they drew on traditional food based remedies.  

I found this a fascinating book.  Anyone interested in Florida history will be grateful for the work of Opie.  It belongs in high school libraries in Florida for sure. I learned a lot from it and for sure want to try out several of the recipes.


Former Syracuse University and US National Lacrosse team player, Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie/AKA Fred Opie, is a Blogger, Podcaster, and Professor of History at Babson College. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter and Facebook:

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Yom Kipper Light Went Out - A Short Story by Rosa Palatnik - 1957 - translated from the by Jessica Kirzane

 The Yom Kippur Light Went Out - A Short Story by Rosa Palatnik - 1957 - translated from the  Yiddish by Jessica Kirzane

A Short Story for Yom Kippur

You may read today’s story here 

On Yom Kippur on September 16, 2018 I posted on a short story “Ne’ilah” by Rosa Palitik related to observations of the High Holiday.  Today I am posting on another of her Yom 

Kipper themed stories.

What is Yom Kippur? When is it held?

Yom Kippur roughly translates to "Day of Atonement", and is a period where Jews abstain from certain things and pray, seeking forgiveness for their sins.

It's considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, and comes 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. From Wikipedia 

The story centers on the deep feelings stirred up in 

Mirel, who left her ancestral home to move to Paris with her two year old daughter.  She was never a close observer of Jewish traditions but even in Paris she felt the power of Yom Kipper. She had found work as a seamstress she could do at home for a non-Jewish factory owner.  On Yom Kipper she lights the traditional Yom Kipper light and sets her work aside. Then there is a knock on her door. It is a factory representative giving her work that needs to be done today.

“All day long, Mirel prepared to take part in the passionate prayers. She recognized again the sad clouds, like family, that she remembered from Yom Kippurs past. She decorated her poor room with white curtains, spread a white tablecloth over her little table, and put on a white dress. She prepared Yom Kippur food, and in the evening, when a Yom Kippur mood covered everything, Mirel brought out a large Yom Kippur candle and set it on a box of sand on top of the covered table, remembering how her mother would bless the children before the Yom Kippur wine. She went to her sleeping child’s bed and wordlessly held her warm little hands to her breast. Burying her head in the child’s little pillow, she quietly sobbed as she fulfilled her mitzvah.

Just as she was praying for a better fate for her little girl, a knock on the door tore apart the quiet Yom Kippur scene. A tall non-Jewish man stood by the half-open door with his blond hair tossed to the side, holding a package of women’s scarves under his arm. He ordered her with a gruff voice, “Here’s your work . . . these have to be ready by morning.”

Mirel stammered fearfully, “I wanted to go, I must go, I can’t do it . . .”

Her boss’s tall messenger winked at the Yom Kippur candle and spoke ironically, “If you are a worker in Paris and you don’t want to go to the factory, then you have to work when your boss asks you to, and not whenever you feel like it. Au revoir!”

To see what happens next read the story.  I found this   very moving.

Rosa Palatnik (1904-1981) was born near Lublin. In 1927 she emigrated to Paris, where she contributed to Yiddish newspapers Di handls-tsaytung and Der parizer paynt. In 1936 she settled in Rio de Janeiro, where she published widely in international Yiddish organs, including Di yidishe prese of Rio, Der nayer moment of São Paolo, Der shpigl of Buenos Aires, Der kontinent and Der veg of Mexico City, Di fraye arbeter-shtime and Morgn-zhurnal of New York and Di goldene keyt of Tel Aviv, composing roughly two hundred short stories.  Some of these stories were later published in her four short-story collections, three of which are available in the Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library. She was awarded the Fishl Bimko Prize in 1954.

The translator, Jessica Kirzane, is a 2017 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow.  

from Yiddish Book Center 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - A Novel - 2012 - 416 pages.

 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - A Novel - 2012 - 416 pages. 

Winner 2012 Orange Prize

“The Song of Achilles is at once a scholar’s homage to the Iliad and a startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist. Madeline Miller has given us her own fresh take on the Trojan war and its heroes. The result is a book I could not put down.”

Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto, The Dutch House and State of Wonder

The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the story line drawn from the Iliad,from the point of view of Patroclus.  Patroclus and Achilles meet when they are in their early teens.  Patroclus had been sent as a punishment for an accidental killing to the Kingdom of the father of Achilles. Achilles is the son of King 

Peleus and a sea nymph, Thetis. When his mother sees Achilles developing  feelings  for a mere mortal boy she with out success tries to end the relationship.  In a very interesting segment both boys spend two years being trained by the Chiron, a centaur.  Achilles is prophesied to be the greatest warrior of the Greeks, remembered forever.

Patroclus accompanies Achilles to Troy.  Their  trip is delayed as Thetis does not want Achilles to go.  Miller makes wonderful use of detail from Homer and Greek myth.

The battle for Troy lasts nine years.  The famous Homeric figures are on stage.  The love story is very well done.  The 

battle scenes are very exciting.  Achilles is a merciless killer, driven by his ego and humanized by his love for 


I enjoyed this book very much. It is exciting and brings in non- Homeric in origins details that add to The fun.

“Madeline Miller grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. She has taught and tutored Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students for over fifteen years.

She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms.

The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. Miller was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year. Her second novel, Circe, was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller, and won the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award and the Indies Choice Best Audiobook of the Year Award, as well as being shortlisted for the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction. Circe also won The Red Tentacle Award, an American Library Association Alex Award (adult books of special interest to teen readers), and the 2018 Elle Big Book Award.  It is currently being adapted for a series with HBO Max. Miller's novels have been translated into over twenty-five languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Telegraph, Lapham's Quarterly and She currently lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” From

Her second novel Circe is near The top of my read soon list.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Everything is Illuminated by Johnathan Safran Foer - A Novel - 2002


Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer - A Novel - 2002

Everything is Illuminated tells two stories.  One is author’s trip to The Ukraine to search for a woman who saved his grandfather from The Nazis.  The other aspect is a fictionalized historical account of Trachimbrod, a Jewish shtetl in The Ukraine.  During August and September 1942 the Germans, with the willing help of the Ukrainian authorities, killed almost all three thousand residents.  

Foer, as a character in The narrative, travels from Americs to 

the Ukraine to look for Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather. He has a number of photographs of them together. Arriving with Maps of the area where Trachimbrod was, it no longer exists and some cigsrettes for gifts and bribes.  Foer has hired a Ukrainian native, Alexander to help him look for Augustine.  Alexander loves American pop culture and studied English at university. His pop culture knowledge is dated.  His “blind” grandfather goes along as the driver.  Additionally his dog, named “Sammy Davis, Jr. Jr” is an important part of the group.

To me, the book was written way before Borat became famous, Alexander sounds like a character of the movie.  I admit this might have caused me to not take the book all that seriously.  This is no doubt just my reaction.

The details of the history, going back to the 18th century, of 

Trachimbrod, is rendered through stock characters.  There are terrible scenes from The Holocaust.  Foer meets a woman of the right age, at least mid seventies, who might be Augustine.

I am glad I read this book but I would endorse it only for those with a strong interest in the period and the history of Jewish people in the Ukraine. 

Everything is Illuminated won numerous awards

Per Wikepedia 

“Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything Is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.” .from Amazon.COM

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson - A Novel - 2003 - 410 pages


The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson - A Novel - 2003 - 410 Pages 

“The Salt Roads should be required reading for the next century. An electrifying bravura performance by one of our most important writers.” —Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“How do I know anything? How is it that my arms stretched out in front of me are so pale? How to I even know that they should be brown like riverbank mud, as they were when I was many goddesses with many worshippers, ruling in lands on the other side of a great, salty ocean? I used to be many, but now we are one, all squeezed together, many necks in one coffle. ” 

 Nalo Hopkinson, The Salt Roads

So far this year I have been stunned by the depth and Beauty of two novels by writers hithertonow unread by me.  The first was The Master and Margarita by Michail Bulgakov  The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson is just amazing beyond my powers to describe how I feel about it.

The Salt Roads focus on the lives of three women of color, living out the consequences of enslavement by Europeans.

We begin on a sugar plantation on  Saint-Domingue (now Haiti and The Domican Republic) in the opening years of the 

18th century.  Mer is a slave on a sugar plantations.  (Saint-Domingue was a French colony from 1659 to 1804).  She is respected as a healer, using knowledge she brought with her from Africa.  Sugar plantations were run in a terrible brutal fashion.  Slaves were worked to death in a few years then replaced either with new imports or slave born children.  When we first encounter her she is with her companion Tipinge, they have accompanied Gerorgina to the River to bury her still born child.  Georgina is her early teens and works in the House of the plantation Master.  The father is white man. It is now we learn the meaning of the title, The Salt Roads and are introduced to Lasirén, an African Goddess whose rebirth is enduced by their cries. The Goddess tells Mer she born from song and prayer.

Later on the river bank Lasirén asks Mer to find out why the salt roads are drying up.  Mer now narrating, 

"The sea roads, they're drying up." 

"The sea is drying up?"

"Not this sea, Stupid child!" Her tail slapped, sent up a fountain, exploding and drenching me. "The sea in the minds of my Ginen. The sea roads, the salt roads. And the sweet ones, too; the rivers. Can't follow them to their sources any more. You must fix it, Mer"

I did a word count on “salt”, it occurs 83 times.  Some times it is sea salt, on food or licked from the body of a lover.

Terrible things happen on the plantation. Slaves are whipped for working too slow and can be burned to death if they are viewed as a threat by the whites.  Slave women are at the sexual mercy of white men. In turn some slaves working as cooks in big houses begin to introduce slow poison into food and water.  Some houses are burned. We attend meetings of slaves plotting revolt.  Some of the slaves, who greatly out number the whites, are very eager for this and others fear the consequences.  Some slaves inform to the masters to gain status or seek revenge for offenses.  

The next two women are drawn from history.  Jean DuVal is remembered as the mistress of the French poet Charles Baudelaire. She  was born 1820 in Haiti and died in Paris about 1870. With her mother  she moved to 

Paris in 1842.  When we first encounter her she has a day off at the brothel she works at and is having an intense sexual encounter with another woman of African descent. There are long very x-rated descriptions of oral sex which contribute another kind meaning to salt.

To Baudelaire creole women like Duval were exotic and sensual, and not a proper.  Their relationship lasted on and off for twenty years.  He does support her and her mother until for a while his own mother cuts way back on his allowance, not approving of his Life Style.  DuVal is for a time visited by Laserin who is one of The four narrators.

We meet our third central human character.  Thais, also known as Meritet, Mary, and Pretty Pearl, is the third main human character. She is a Nubian slave and prostitute living in Alexandria, Egypt.  She will become Saint Mary of Egypt.

She and a fellow slave prostitute Judah decide to run away from their Masters to visit Jerusalem,then known as Aelia Capitolina.  She is inhabited by Lasirén who influenced her decision to visit a famous church.  As she enters the church she has a miscarriage.  Her blood is considered a desecration of the church by all but one who guides her toward her destiny.

There is so much of interest here.  In the midst of a section on Jean Duval Mer May appear.  The narrative structure is very imaginatively rendered in a mix of long and short sections. Many intriguing minor characters come and go.  

I was deeply drawn into The Salt Roads.  In all three segments we see the intertwining of sexuality and prostitution  over long periods of history. Sex is also an escape and a way to reconnect with the ancient Salt Roads.

“Nola Hopkinson’s first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, was published as the winner of the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest in 1998 and won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. She has published five additional novels, including the Andre Norton Award–winning Sister Mine, and three collections of her short fiction.

Hopkinson has also proven herself an adept editor, guest-editing an issue of Lightspeed Magazine and editing five anthologies, including Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction and So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy. Hopkinson has also won the British Fantasy Award, the Aurora Award, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and the Sunburst Award. She has taught at Clarion East, Clarion West, and Clarion South and is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal adds:

“I have loved Nalo Hopkinson’s work since 1999 when I discovered her through the short story “Precious” in a Datlow/Windling anthology Silver Birch, Blood Moon. Each new piece continues to delight me and stretch me as a reader and makes me bolder as a writer.

“Naming Nalo as Grand Master recognizes not only her phenomenal writing but also her work as an educator who has shaped so many of the rising stars of modern SFF.” From

I hope to read through her body of work 

Mel u