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This exquisitely rendered debut collection of 11 reprints and three originals ranges into the past and future to explore identity and belief in a dazzling variety of settings. "At the Huts of Ajala," a folktale concerning a girl wrestling with a trickster god before her birth, is full of urgent and delightful imagery, while "Wallamelon" is an elegaic, sophisticated exploration of the Blue Lady myth. Of the several science fiction stories included, the strongest are "Good Boy," an engrossing experiment in computer psychology, African gods and postcolonial anxiety, and "Shiomah's Land," a cross-genre bildungsroman involving a girl who becomes the wife of a goddess. The concluding tale, "The Beads of Ku," is an utterly arresting, authoritatively delivered tale concerning the diplomacy of marriage and the economy of the land of the dead. The threads of folklore, religious magic, family and the search for a cohesive self are woven with power and lucidity throughout this panorama of race, magic and the body. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.