REVIEW: “A Handful of Mud” by Artyv K

Review of Artyv K, “A Handful of Mud”, Luna Station Quarterly 36 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

What can you do with a handful of mud? That’s what Dana and her sister Mtra ask their mipaati, their grandmother, when she brings home not food, not chocolate, but a handful of mud. Mipaati is a hoarder, and at first her granddaughters think this is just another part of her irrational behavior. But mipaati has a plan for her mud, one that Dana thinks cannot possibly work: She is going to grow food in it.

See, Dana, Mtra, and mipaati all live underground; it’s not entirely clear why, but hints are dropped — capitalism, poisoned soil in the land above, a land destroyed by industrialist greed. But it’s not just that it’s hard to grow plants underground that makes Dana think this cannot possibly work; it’s all the restrictions against hazardous, toxic materials that govern their underground compound. If anyone finds out what mipaati is doing, they are all in trouble…