River Mumma: A Breathtaking Fantasy Novel Brimming with Magical Realism (Hardcover)

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River Mumma: A Breathtaking Fantasy Novel Brimming with Magical Realism By Zalika Reid-Benta Cover Image
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River Mumma is a love letter to culture, home, and coming of age—and will spark important, relevant book club conversations, too.” —Marissa Stapley, New York Times bestselling author of Lucky

Issa Rae’s Insecure with a magical realist spin: River Mumma is an exhilarating contemporary fantasy novel about a young Black woman who navigates her quarter-life-crisis while embarking on a mythical quest through the streets of Toronto.


Alicia has been out of grad school for months. She has no career prospects and lives with her mom, who won’t stop texting her macabre news stories and reminders to pick up items from the grocery store.

Then, 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.

Alicia doesn’t understand why River Mumma would choose her. She can’t remember all the legends her relatives told her, unlike her retail co-worker Heaven, who can reel off Jamaican folklore by heart. She doesn’t know if her childhood visions have returned, or why she feels a strange connection to her other co-worker Mars. But when the trio are chased down by malevolent spirits called duppies, they realize their tenuous bonds to each other may be their only lifelines. With the clock ticking, Alicia’s quest through the city broadens into a journey through time—to find herself and what the river carries.

Energetic and invigorating, River Mumma is a vibrant exploration of diasporic community and ancestral ties, and a homage to Jamaican storytelling by one of the most invigorating voices in today’s literature.

“This quirky, fizzy, charming debut surprises and amuses. Reid-Benta writes beautifully, drawing on Caribbean mythologies to create a fast paced and entertaining tale. It's rare to find a novel written with such humour and heart.” —T. L. Huchu, USA Today Bestselling author of The Library of the Dead

About the Author


Zalika Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based writer whose debut story collection, Frying Plantain, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction. Frying Plantain was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and it was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award, the White Pine Award, and the Trillium Book Award. Zalika served as the 2021-2022 Writer in Residence at Western University and was the chair of the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University, was a John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and is an alumnus of the Banff Centre Writing Studio.

Praise For…


★ “Stunning debut. . . that marks the emergence of a powerful new voice.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “A race-against-the-clock page-turner with friendship and diasporic community building at its heart, this book is a winner.” Booklist, starred review

“This is a splendid story about ancestry, identity, and creativity.” —Apple Books Review

River Mumma is a propulsive read filled with captivating characters, page-­turning mystery, and a thoughtful examination of kinship and ancestral ties.” Toronto Life

“. . . Reid-Benta writes powerfully of the diasporic experience, the connections between family history and community, and the role and importance of lore and mythic history.” —Toronto Star

River Mumma is a blessing and Zalika Reid-Benta’s talent is a truly special gift. This is a quest novel that maps Jamaican folklore across modern-day Toronto; three young people are sent on a mission by a goddess and if that doesn’t pique your interest then something is very wrong with you.” —Victor LaValle, award-winning author of The Changeling

“Wholly original, remarkably crafted, and unmatched in voice, atmosphere, and action, River Mumma should be on every must-read list this season.” —Cherie Dimaline, bestselling author of Empire of Wild

River Mumma is the type of vivid, rich novel I love best. It left me turning pages and pondering possibilities well into the night.” —Alicia Elliott, bestselling author of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

“A generational saga, a big-city survival narrative, a study of diasporic cultural nuances, all wrapped inside a thrilling adventure. Complex, deep and resonant, River Mumma is coming for your heart.” —Samit Basu, author of The City Inside

River Mumma is a love letter to culture, home, and coming of age—and will spark important, relevant book club conversations, too.” —Marissa Stapley, New York Times bestselling author of Lucky

"A fast-paced and absorbing adventure steeped in Caribbean folklore and mythology, River Mumma is a treat for the senses." —Uzma Jalaluddin, bestselling author of Ayesha at Last

“River Mumma is a necessary book about race, gender, ancestry, colonialism, eco-existentialism, and desire.” —Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related

“A page-turner of a novel that is both funny and poignant, River Mumma magically and seamlessly weaves Jamaican folklore and myth with the winter landscape of Toronto to create a compelling fictional landscape.” —Shyam Selvadurai, author of Mansions of the Moon

“A powerful and evocative novel weaving threads of magical realism to create a powerful and moving tale about a search for identity. It is a journey–diasporic, ancestral, cultural, and personal–all coming together by the importance of storytelling by a master storyteller.” —Maurice Broaddus, award-nominated author of Sweep of Stars


Product Details
ISBN: 9781645661351
ISBN-10: 1645661350
Publisher: Erewhon Books
Publication Date: February 20th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English