REVIEW: “Mama Tulu” by Jessica Guess

Review of Jessica Guess, “Mama Tulu”, Luna Station Quarterly 27 (2016): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content warning: Drinking, gambling, domestic abuse.

This urban fantasy set in Jamaica centers around the titular character Mama Tulu, and Sasha, the young woman who goes to visit her to make an unspeakable request. I liked almost everything about it — but not quite everything. I have a deep ambivalence about the use of phonetic representations of dialect in written fiction; I am never sure how appropriate or successful they are. Reading them often feels like an uncomfortable caricature; but on the other hand, I think it’s important to recognise the varieties of ways in which people speak, and to recognise the legitimacy of, e.g., AAVE.

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