Writing the impossible: Racial, sexual and stylistic expansivity in Nalo Hopkinson’s The Salt Roads (2003)
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-30, 15:30 authored by Kate Houlden
Nalo Hopkinson’s work holds an important place in the newly emerging and widely contested field of Caribbean queer studies. Yet, to date, her contribution has not been fully theorized. Her 2003 novel The Salt Roads evokes a continuum of loving encounters between women, which correspond to Audre Lorde’s emphasis on the resources provided by the erotic realm and the radical potentiality of shared connection with an other. Hopkinson’s most distinctive intervention, however, comes with her harnessing of racial, sexual and stylistic diversity. The same engagement with generic forms that has hindered critical reception of her work can also be viewed as a tactic through which she inserts a black, female and queer voice. Yet, at the same time as she deploys the genre conventions of speculative fiction, her writing also undermines the politics of empire subtly encoded within much of this oeuvre. Rather than simply providing a Caribbean twist to established genres, Hopkinson’s destabilizing of formal distinctions is itself rooted in the creolization emblematic of the Caribbean. The author’s assertion that speculative fiction allows her to imagine the impossible therefore signals the close connection between her subversion of genre codes and the sexual and racial expansiveness characteristic of her authorial vision.
Publication titleJournal of Postcolonial Writing
PublisherTaylor & Francis
- Accepted version