Local author, poet, and publisher Kirsten Imani Kasai believes that poetry and fiction should be challenging, emotionally stimulating and intellectually nourishing. An avowed feminist, she's dedicated to her mission of celebrating literature as a change agent that can push us beyond our comfort zones, break us open and put us back together. In an interview she noted, "Literature is a change agent. It should shake us up, push us beyond our comfort zones and break us open or put us back together. It is the mirror, the lens—a coalescing beam that can illuminate, clarify, reflect or ignite. "
Her latest work, The House of Erzulie, is billed as Historical Fiction Imbued with the Uncanny: Obsessions and Racial Guilt on an 1850s Plantation. Booklist’s review commented:
"This compelling and grim novel is a propulsive read, full of commentary on ethnic identity, mental illness, and power." And Library Journal observed, "Kasai explores the horrors of slavery and its legacy in this gothic tale that tingles on the verge of psychological horror."
The House of Erzulie tells the eerily intertwined stories of an ill-fated young couple in the 1850s and the troubled historian who discovers their writings in the present day.
Emilie St. Ange, daughter of a Creole slaveowning family in Louisiana, rebels against her parents by embracing spiritualism and advocating the abolition of slavery. Isidore, her biracial, French-born husband, is horrified by the brutalities of plantation life and becomes unhinged by an obsessive affair with a notorious New Orleans vodou practitioner.
Emilie’s and Isidore’s letters and journals are interspersed with sections narrated by Lydia Mueller, an architectural historian whose fragile mental health further deteriorates as she reads.
Imbued with a sense of the uncanny and the surreal, The House of Erzulie also alludes to the very real horrors of slavery as it draws on the long tradition of the African-American Gothic novel.
There are secrets beneath her skin.
Sorykah Minuit is a scholar, an engineer, and the sole woman aboard an ice-drilling submarine in the frozen land of the Sigue. What no one knows is that she is also a Trader: one who can switch genders suddenly, a rare corporeal deviance universally met with fascination and superstition and all too often punished by harassment or death.
Sorykah’s infant twins, Leander and Ayeda, have inherited their mother’s Trader genes. When a wealthy, reclusive madman known as the Collector abducts the babies to use in his dreadful experiments, Sorykah and her male alter-ego, Soryk, must cross icy wastes and a primeval forest to get them back. Complicating the dangerous journey is the fact that Sorykah and Soryk do not share memories: Each disorienting transformation is like awakening with a jolt from a deep and dreamless sleep.
The world through which the alternating lives of Sorykah and Soryk travel is both familiar and surreal. Environmental degradation and genetic mutation run amok; humans have been distorted into animals and animal bodies cloak a wild humanity. But it is also a world of unexpected beauty and wonder, where kindness and love endure amid the ruins. Alluring, intense, and gorgeously rendered, Ice Song is a remarkable debut by a fiercely original new writer.
BONUS: This special eBook edition includes four bonus short stories set in the world of Tattoo: "Chen," and the eBook exclusives “Pavel,” "Queen Sidra the Lovely," and “Soryk.”
HER FATE IS IN HER FLESH.
In an environmentally fragile world where human and animal genes combine, the rarest mutation of all—the Trader—can instantly switch genders. One such Trader, the female Sorykah, is battling her male alter, Soryk, for dominance and the right to live a full life.
Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. Her journey, she believes, is over, but Matuk’s death has unleashed darker, more evil forces. These forces, led by the Collector’s son, cast nets of power that stretch from the glittering capital of Neubonne to the murky depths below the frozen Sigue, where the ink of octameroons is harvested to make addictive, aphrodisiacal tattoos. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit.