Languages Across Generations

Languages Across GenerationsA review of Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms (NeWest Press, 1994)

By Derek Newman-Stille


Chorus of Mushrooms is a beautifully written, poetic book that revels in the wonder and majesty of language while being fundamentally about silences. Hiromi Goto examines the multiplicity of silencings that occur in our world – the racialised, ageist, sexist structures that are created in our society to de-voice certain people. Goto examines the way that language shapes and creates us and the way that it can also be used to contain and control us. 
Chorus of Mushrooms is about an elderly woman who keeps talking while no one listens. She tries to assert her voice into a household that has forgotten how to speak Japanese, trying to teach while being fundamentally ignored. In order to conform, her daughter and son in law began speaking English in the home as much as possible, eventually losing those linguistic roots that tied the family together. When they also have a daughter, she wants to connect to her linguistic heritage but ends up discovering that while she didn’t officially learn Japanese, she and her grandmother speak an unspoken, inter-generational language that allows both to feel connected in a family environment that seems to isolate them. 
Goto expresses the importance of language as a vehicle for story-telling as well as a vehicle for announcing one’s presence. Despite the attempts to ignore the voices of the aged and the culturally marginalised, Obachan, the elderly woman, speaks back, announcing herself to the silence imposed around her. She reminds others of her presence even when they choose not to listen. She creates a world from words.
To discover more about Hiromi Goto, visit her website at http://www.hiromigoto.com 

Quote – You Might Not Get Everything I Say

“You might not get everything I say. But that doesn’t mean the story’s not there to understand. Can you listen before you hear?”

-Hiromi Goto – Chorus of Mushrooms (NeWest Press, 1994)

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 41: Feminist SF

Speculative Fiction is about viewing the world in different ways and imagining new interactions between people. Perhaps this is why so many authors have been attracted to SF as a place for reexamining gendered ideas and gender interactions. In this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, I note a few powerful Canadian feminist SF authors such as Nalo Hopkinson and Hiromi Goto. In particular, I examine the Canadian contributions to the collection Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Jeff and Anne Vandermeer.

This episode explores ideas of reproduction, heterosexism, imbalances in gendered power. This issue explores the power of speculative fiction to disrupt patriarchal assumptions about women’s bodies.

I apply some of Joanna Russ’ ideas from “What Can a Heroine Do? or Why Women Can’t Write” (that explores the possibilities of a feminist Speculative Fiction and examines the feminist potential in speculative fiction) to the analysis of speculative fiction overall, but particularly to the work of Nalo Hopkinson and Hiromi Goto.

You can listen to this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio at the link below.

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support. I would also like to thank Dwayne Collins for his consistent tech support and help with the intricacies of creating audio files.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 28: Myth and Canadian SF

In this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, I talk about the way that myths and legends have influenced Canadian Speculative Fiction, focusing on the variety of different myths that have been brought to Canada. Myths have a power to inspire us, and to evoke thought and a sense of wonder about the world around us. In this episode, we examine Larissa Lai’s “When Fox is a Thousand”, Hiromi Goto’s “Kappa Child”, Marie Bilodeau’s “The Kevlar Canoe”, and Chadwick Ginther’s “Thunder Road” and “Tombstone Blues”.  This episode examines how myths from China, Japan, French Canadian settlers, and the Norse have inspired our speculative fiction authors.

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support. I would also like to thank Dwayne Collins for his consistent tech support and help with the intricacies of creating audio files.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.

 

 

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 6: Canadian Queer SF

As a queer man, do you know what I want to see:

a sci fi novel in which one of the typical space bros says “yo fags, no homo” and instantly has his head bitten off by a glitter-wearing, feather boa carrying alien, who instantly spits it out and says “No hate, bro”;

or a femmbot who decides that since he has been denied the right to transition to a male robot, he is going to take matters into his own hands and solders a vibrator onto his body;

a fantasy novel in which the evil queen finally gets her princess love;

a white knight who realises that the black knight keeps kidnapping princesses to get his attention;

a horror novel in which the werewolf reveals that she is only biting women because she wants to create a female-only pack

OR a sparkly vampire… oh wait, that’s been done before… and with a straight vampire at that.

There is an under representation of queer people in genre fiction, but this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio explores Canadian queer, LGBTQ2 or QUILTBAG (Q – Queer and Questioning, U – Unidentified, I – Intersex, L – Lesbian, T – Transgender, Transexual, Two-Spirited, B – Bisexual, A – Asexual, G – Gay, Genderqueer) fiction.

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.