Sponsored by Penguin Canada

Magical realism fans will love this exhilarating novel from Toronto-based Giller-nominated author Zalika Reid-Benta. River Mumma is an homage to Jamaican storytelling, exploring the many facets of diasporic identities and the power of ancestral ties. The story follows Alicia, a millennial Black woman in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, as she embarks on a magical quest through the streets of Toronto.

River Mumma is a funny, fantastical tale that honours Caribbean folklore and mythology, from the author of the poignant story collection Frying Plantain

The book is named on Chatelaine’s Official Summer 2023 Reading List, and has received praise from some of our favourite authors. Catherine Hernandez, author of Scarborough, describes River Mumma as “an emotional quest painted with magic realism and folklore”, while bestselling author Cherie Demaline calls the book “a love letter to Toronto and a meditation on ancestor gratitude.” 

Alicia has been out of grad school for months, living with her mom, with no career prospects on the horizon. One evening, the Jamaican water deity River Mumma appears to Alicia, telling her that she has twenty-four hours to scour the city for her missing comb.

She doesn’t understand why River Mumma would choose her, but soon enough Alicia and her two co-workers, Heaven and Mars, embark on a wild adventure through the city (which wouldn’t be complete without a TTC mishap). With the clock ticking, Alicia’s quest through the city broadens into a journey through time—to find herself and what the river carries.

“Zalika Reid-Benta’s latest novel moves with the urgency and inevitability of a river. Her shimmering prose and evocative characterizations make it a joy to follow Alicia and her friends on this tense, but powerful journey–not only across Toronto, but into Alicia’s own family history,” writes author Alicia Elliot.

Don’t miss this enchanting story from one of the most invigorating voices in Canadian literature. 

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