Many Americans know "mojo" is Southern slang for powerful magic. But few Americans know the word originated in West Africa and referred to a small cloth bag containing protective magicks. The origin of mojo is as obscure to Americans as the religious, spiritual, and magical beliefs of Africa, which are far less familiar than the religions and myths of Europe and Asia. Acclaimed author/editor Nalo Hopkinson addresses this imbalance with her anthology Mojo: Conjure Stories , which collects 19 original stories of magic and gods and mortals, set in locales that range from a pre-Civil War plantation to modern Oakland, from Nineteenth-Century England to underground New York City.
Contributors range from big names like Steven Barnes, Neil Gaiman, and Barbara Hambly to exciting new authors (however, editor Hopkinson unfortunately does not contribute a story). The anthology avoids such inaccurate, offensive Hollywood stereotypes as the pin-stuck "voodoo doll," and the overall quality is very high, with a few weak tales offset by the far more numerous excellent stories. Among the best works are Sheree Renee Thomas's poetic myth "How Sukie Cross De Big Wata"; Marcia Douglas's lyrical "Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells," the best story about the writing process since Jaime Hernandez's "How to Kill A" ( Love & Rockets ); and "The Tawny Bitch," Nisi Shawl's classically gothic tale of a wealthy, quadroon British heiress held captive by a greedy, lustful relative.
The anthology opens with a brief but informative editor's note from Nalo Hopkinson and an evocative introduction by Luisah Teish, priestess of the Ifa/Orisha tradition and author of several books, including the spiritual classic Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals . --Cynthia Ward Book DescriptionWhen enslaved people were brought from the western part of Africa to the Americas, they were forbidden to speak their native languages or practice their religions in the NewWorld. But their folkways survived as underground beliefs, and, in the crucible of slavery, created systems of magic and herbal lore with a particularly West African flavor. MOJO draws on the talents of writers who have a reputation for the sensitive, imaginative use of folklore and folkways in their work.