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Skin Folk: Stories

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  860 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson's first collection is Skin Folk, and its 15 stories are as strong and beautiful as her novels.

"The Glass Bottle Trick" retells the Bluebeard legend in a Caribbean setting and rhythms, for a sharp, chilling examination of love, gender, race, and class. In the myth-tinged "Money Tree," a Canadian immigrant's greed sends him back to Jamaic

Kindle Edition, 275 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (first published December 1st 2001)
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4.02  · 
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 ·  860 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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I think a short story collection can sometimes be a great introduction to an intriguing author. This was my first Hopkinson book. She is fascinating and a bit "freaky" (freaky as in weird and as in Rick James "Super Freak"). This was a book of short stories ranging from Caribbean folklore, to horror to science fiction. Her stories are sensuous, seductive and yeah a bit salacious as well. She is a gifted storyteller with a command of language many people would appreciate. (view spoiler) ...more
What an amazing collection of speculative short stories!

I almost loved this as much as Octavia Butler's collection Bloodchild, which is the best sf/fantasy short story collection ever, in my opinion.

Full review to come on Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

Here's the review!

I’ve really been spoilt by fantastic short story collections this summer, and Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson is no exception. When I say fantastic, I mean it in more than one sense: these stories are remarkable, especially wrapped
Bogi Takács
My review is now online on

Source of the book: Bought with my own money (Library book sale)
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Skin Folk",is an anthology of fifteen short stories based on Caribbean myth,culture ,tradition and folklore .Some of the stories are fabulist ,some have magical realism blended in ,some are based on folklore and some are pure science fiction.I will say that this is the best short story collection I have read this year and I am very happy to have discovered Nalo Hopkinson 😀.
The writing is vivid,intense ,rich and creative . The reader can literally breath these stories.There were actually one or
While I didn't like all of the stories here, this collection gave me a good sense of Nalo Hopkinson's earlier writing style, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to read her work! Her work ranges from speculative fiction to almost regular fiction, with generous doses of Caribbean folklore, some Canadian flavour, and some somewhat explicit sex. A few of the stories made me uncomfortable, but these left me thinking:
-The Glass Bottle Trick
-Slow Cold Chick
-A Habit of Waste
C.S. Malerich
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of fantasy's appeal is that it takes you some place unfamiliar. Yet Ursula Le Guin has rightly criticized the bias of much fantasy literature to assume that characters ought to be white and the world ought to look like medieval Europe. Even contemporary fantasy reverts to the European fairy tale model so often that, while Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimms are awesome, I find myself craving something different. So browsing through my library's eBook collection, when the words "Caribbean ...more
This is an amazing collection. Nalo Hopkinson writes in gorgeous, vivid prose that manages to bring all of her characters and settings to life in only a few pages. My favorite story was "Fisherman," which non-coincidentally was also the queerest story of the collection.

Themes of skin, identity, and appearance play a major role in many of these stories, although the book spans a wide range of ideas and moods - creepy, erotic, hopeful, tragic. There are a number of beautifully ambiguous endings a
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this short story collection!

Hopkinson centers this collection around Caribbean folklore, with some stories set in Canada following the lives of immigrants. Her writing is weird, but I like weird! She blends horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction--and she does it well.

In particular I liked "Riding the Red" and "Greedy Choke Puppy." Hopkinson just gets what fairy tales and folk tales are all about, which I would generalize as fear and sex. Most of her stories look at those two theme
Migdalia Jimenez
I don't usually like short stories but I absolutely adored this collection by one of my favorite authors, Nalo Hopkinson. In the vein of Octavia Butler, Hopkinson is a able to create wholly original science fiction/fantasy narratives that are rooted deeply in the lives of women of color. The tales in this book range from futuristic stories where racism persists in new forms, modern takes on fairy tales and disturbing narratives that are impossible to forget.
Nadine Tomlinson
Synopsis: “Throughout the Caribbean, [there are] stories about people who aren’t what they seem. Skin gives these folks their human shape. When the skin comes off, their true selves emerge. And whatever the burden their skin bears, once they remove it, skin folk can fly…”

My introduction to Nalo Hopkinson through this riveting short story collection was like an out-of-body experience.

Continue reading
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of well-written sci-fi/fantasy, thoughtful queer literature & devastatingly good writing
Although this collection is a little uneven, its best stories are powerful and sexy and indelible. Nalo Hopkinson is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful; her stories and novels mix postcoloniality, fabulism and queer studies in consistently entertaining and thought-provoking ways. I hesistate to make comparisons, but if you miss Octavia Butler dearly, and always sort of wish she was a little younger and Canadian/Jamaican and touchy-feely, Nalo Hopkinson's your woman. You should also read her most re ...more
Andrea Blythe
Hopkinson's eerie and haunting collection of short stories influenced by her life and roots, both her Caribbean cultural heritage and her experiences living in Canada. With powerful, vivid prose, Hopkinson unveils strange, unsettling worlds in which an ordinary eggs give birth to strange, deformed monsters, glass storms cut up everything in their path, and trees take flight. Many of these stories explore darkness. "Snake" is an absolutely terrifying tale from the point of view of a child moleste ...more
What a wonderful short story collection. I loved the seamless jumps from realism to sci-fi to folklore. "Fisherman" came as a surprise, because it was very much erotica. Very well written, compelling erotica though.
I've been trying to branch out with the type of authors I read, and this was a wonderful change of pace. I picked it up because so many people compared Ms. Hopkinson to the late Octavia Butler, and I was not disappointed. I'll be reading more of Nalo Hopkinson in the future for sure.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthology, 2012, e-book
While there's a couple of stories that aren't re-tellings, the rest of the volume is nearly evenly split between Caribbean and European folklore. And even the European based tales had a heavy Caribbean flavor.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely adored this inventive collection of short stories. Hopkinson’s writing is very exciting to me and I look forward to reading more. In this collection she draws inspiration from Caribbean folklore, explores amusing turns of phrase, and turns tropes on their heads. A couple of these stories were surprisingly sexy, but those stories were no less hard hitting than the rest. Some of the stories made me work for them as the reader, but I found the rewards rich each time. Hopkinson crafts won ...more
I listened to only one of the stories in this anthology- "Money Tree" on LeVar Burton Reads. In this particular story a brother and sister listen to Caribbean folklore about their family's connection to the water with a mamadjo/mermaid mother and a tale of lost pirated gold. This allegorical tale makes connections between greed and familial relations, and incorporates the transformative value of water with the sister in healing from her grief.
Feb 10, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: priority-reads
Read "The Glass Bottle Trick" on the Fantasy Magazine website. It's a bluebeard re-telling - and it's amazing - 5/5 stars. The setting and the way the culture immerses the story... the way the folklore is brought in... and the twist at the end - wow. No fainting heroine in need of rescue here. Her future may be uncertain, and we don't see how it turns out, but she thinks fast and with any luck it'll work in her favor.

I need to read more of this author's work - definitely bumping her up to the
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wcls
Oh, the language! The stories are good but the stories are spectacular with the language she uses.
Adam Hodgins
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, canadian
Good stuff, I just want to read everything Nalo Hopkinson has written.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
I usually prefer novels to short fiction, but these are some of the best short stories I've ever read.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Few things I've read in the last years were as creepy, as enjoyable, or as thoughtful as this collection of short stories.
Chrysten Lofton
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5.0⭐ “Want all, lose all.”


Here's my take on the second (LIVE) May episode of Stitcher’s LeVar Burton Reads, and we’re gifted with “Money Tree” by Nalo Hopkinson.

If you follow my reviews, I’ve mentioned before having an occasional auditory issue with certain stories, where I can’t seem to retain what I’m hearing. It’s like zoning out, I guess, no matter how hard I try to focus, I keep disconnecting in the same exact line, over and over. Anyway, that’s what took me so long to get
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars. This is my first time reading anything from Nalo Hopkinson and it won't be my last. Skin Folk is a collection of short stories running the gambit from Jamaican influenced folk tales to science fiction elements, and everything in between. This collection is definitely something I will need to reread before I can really sit down and attempt to review these individual stories. Nalo Hopkinson's writing style is wonderful and very much alive. There's a certain rhythm to the spoken Caribbea ...more
Elisabeth Stones
It’s hard to put a number of stars on this, it being a collection of short stories. Some of them I really loved, including “Fisherman” and “Under Glass”, while others didn’t land quite as well for me. Still, I would definitely recommend this book!
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cat by: Debra Rae
This is the first work by Hopkinson I've read, and I loved it! Funny and creepy and erotic and evocative. She reminds me a little bit of Angela Carter because of her audacious, queer, sex-positive, Afro-Caribbean play with European fairy tales and Caribbean folk tales. (For European fairy tales, see in particular her vivid rewrites of Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard's Castle.) Hopkinson has a gift for narrative voice. Even the stories that aren't in Caribbean patois have a melodic rhythm. S ...more
Micah Horton hallett
This is a truly exceptional collection of short stories. Nalo Hopkinson's use of voice is fantastic it makes her characters as alive and immediate as if they had walked into your home and sat down for dinner. The mythology of the Caribbean that underpins most of these pieces makes a refreshing and illuminating change from the usual tropes of horror and the fantastic, however it was the one story carrying no fantastic elements that had me seconds from sobbing in a public place. Not from sorrow or ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mixed bunch of short stories. Not all were to my taste but there was plenty of powerful prose and strong female characters. I enjoyed the way she infused culture and twisted fairy tales. Some of the stories I skimmed through as they did not grab my interest.
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic short story collection. Hopkinson combines elements of Caribbean culture and folklore with magical realism and speculative fiction, including a few “Black Mirror”-like stories about technology in the near future. She has an engaging, easy to read writing style that made this book a breeze. It’s only not a 5 because there were a couple stories that didn’t work for me as well as the others. If you enjoy speculative fiction you should read this book! I look forward to discoverin ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adore how alive Nalo Hopkinson's prose feels. I can only hope to write something half as sensual. And yet, this collection gathers both brilliant stories and those that fall rather flat. In some, it felt like the only surprising or fresh element was the use of Caribbean mythology. And the myths were enough to keep my attention, but they can't be a substitute for plot.
Fascinating, engrossing collection - whether a story is rooted in reality or twenty-minutes-into-the-future or in fairy tales from any one of a mass of traditions.

Particular favorites: Under Glass, Precious, The Glass Bottle Trick, Something to Hitch Meat To.
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Nalo Hopkinson is a Jamaican-born writer and editor who lives in Canada. Her science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories often draw on Caribbean history and language, and its traditions of oral and written storytelling.

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