The Salt Roads By Nalo Hopkinson
Finished on 2/23/2017
Genres: Fantasy, Alternative History Fantasy, Kickass Female Protagonist, Colonialism, Racism, Black History, Magical Realism
Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 22/100
3 Oppressed women, 1 Newborn Goddess and Their 1 Struggle for Freedom out of 5
I read this book for the Sword and Laser Book Club.
‘The Salt Roads’ features three women: Mer the black slave on the French Colony of Santo Domingo (modern day Haiti), Jeanne the black Parisian entertainer and Thais the black Ancient Egyptian whore. This is the story of their trials, the story of their misery, their pathos. Linking the three of them is the emergent personality of the goddess Ezili Je-Wouj, who is a combination of the three women.
Plot: there wasn’t one. ‘The Salt Roads’ is three short stories jumbled together in such a way that they can’t be pulled apart again. There were a few minor antagonists, (Mer’s owner and Makandal, Charles and Joel, and Thais’ owner respectively) but they are little more than speedbumps in terms of the books overall flow.
Characterization: Mer was forced to make a choice to give up any chance at her own freedom for the sake of healing enslaved Ginen (Ginen= enslaved black people). That’s extremely strong character development. Jeanne must choose to leave her rocky relationship with Baudelaire behind for a new wealthy boyfriend, but only after Baudelaire is broke and can no longer support her. That’s okay character development. Thais chooses to escape slavery in Alexandria and become a desert ascetic after a religious experience. When she leaves the desert she goes back to whoring. That’s not character development. In short the characterization is something of a mixed bag, reflecting the lack of narrative flow in real life.
This book’s strong points include it’s non-standard format (no chapters, instead using perspective shifts to break things up) and the distinct voice each woman had. Maybe you’ll like it.