The Writer’s Life
Nalo Hopkinson’s science fiction and real-life family
The author talks about illness, community and her new novel, ‘Sister Mine.’
Nalo Hopkinson, novelist and a professor at UC Riverside. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Over the course of her nearly 20-year career, the Jamaican-born longtime Canada resident has become the sort of genre writer who lands a spot on mainstream critics’ “best of” lists or gets mentioned in the same breath with Octavia Butler.
“She’s a powerful writer with an imagination that most of us would kill for,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz emails from Tokyo. “I have read everything she has written and am in awe of her many gifts. And her protagonists are unforgettable — formidable haunted women drawn with an almost unbearable honesty — seriously, who writes sisters like Nalo? Takes courage to be that true.”
Like much of Hopkinson’s work, “Sister Mine” mixes Afro-Caribbean and European mythology, elements of horror, a snappy wit and astute psychology. It’s an elaborate urban fantasy about sisters Makeda and Abby — the offspring of a human mother and benevolent demigod. Their father has disappeared under extremely shady circumstances, and the formerly conjoined twins — one of whom is being stalked by her personal ghoul — have to call upon a fractious family of celestial beings to help track him down.