Why Brown Girl in the Ring Matters!

How many times have you been assigned readings in your classes and completely hated it? Probably more than you could count! I’m no different, but the benefits of being a Writing major are that I get some silver linings every once in a while. Meaning that sometimes I get to read and analyze some incredible books with great characters and themes that blow me away!

“Brown Girl in the Ring” by Nalo Hopkinson is a hidden gem. Upon receiving this book for an assignment, I was intrigued and shocked. As I began to read it and discover that the majority of the characters are people of color, I was simply speechless. Usually, I get to read about white characters and while I have no problem with that it felt significant to see Caribbean people be represented in such great light. The dystopian novel explores themes such as traditions, violence and broken relationships. I should probably mention this - I grew up in Puerto Rico, I’m a Latina and a Caribbean woman. Therefore, reading about the story and traditions that other islands in the Caribbean hold just empowered me to explore more literature from Latin America and the Caribbean. One of the things that allowed me to fall in love with the novel was that the main theme or symbol wasn’t technology. While the novel is set in the future, it isn’t all about technology. In fact, one of the greatest themes are traditions and medicine which is pretty rad.


I think more often than not people that enjoy reading get absorbed into the same sort of themes and books of a certain genre. When we think of dystopian novels and Sci-Fi we think of technology and novels such as “Snow Crash”, “Brave New World”, and “Mortal Engines”. However, we need to expand and read about different settings and experience the perspectives of diverse characters.


Hopkinson develops an astonishing storyline that draws the reader in and explores themes such as spirituality and some traditional parts of the Caribbean. Additionally, Hopkinson writes about zombies - that’s right, I said it, zombies! How awesome is that! And it’s not the zombies we’re used seeing in the big screen, it’s a more profound zombie. In fact, some critics say that the zombies represent the shame people of color experience once they hide their cultural background (check peer-reviewed article “Zombies Go to Toronto” for more information and analysis of the sort).


Why does “Brown Girl in the Ring” matter? Because it exposes social issues and experiences Afro-Caribbean people go through, especially in a country that’s significantly white. I think it’s essential to read about diverse characters and the things they experience. Additionally, Nalo Hopkinson excels at writing about people of color (as a woman of color herself, it makes sense) and sharing fresh storylines with the audience. The number of metaphors, symbolism, and themes found in her works are simply breathtaking. Hopkinson’s writing enhances the experience and touches on topics most of us haven’t read of yet. I think “Brown Girl in the Ring” is extremely significant due to its unique story, characters, issues, and themes.


I recommend this book as the character development and plot twist don’t disappoint! I hope you can check the book, or author, out - I doubt you’ll be disappointed.