A Quick Review of Blood is Another Word for Hunger by Rivers Solomon

Reading Rivers Solomon is a visceral experience—one that I’m still reeling from having read their novella The Deep and their short story Prudent Girls for the Decameron Project.

So it’s no surprise upon seeing they’ve written horror alongside their impressive SFF track record, I immediately gravitated toward Blood is Another Word for Hunger, a short story that trails in the aftermath of Sully’s murder of her mistress and her mistress’ children when they learn of her master’s death. From murder comes new life, quite literally when Sully rapidly becomes pregnant and subsequently gives birth, a new being reborn for every person she’s killed and will come to kill.

She wished she missed them. She wished at the very least she felt sadness or guilt. But all she felt was the same old rage. It burned her up, leaving her numb, nerves charred. She’d done the thing she’d always dreamt of doing, and now what? Perhaps now it was her turn to die.

Blood is Another Word for Hunger, Rivers Solomon

Blood is Another Word for Hunger feels like an apt description for Sully’s circumstances. A hunger for freedom, for revenge—a hunger that can only be sated in bloodletting. Yet hunger isn’t a feeling sated for long. It comes back, a hollow ache and no matter how much Sully wants the satisfaction of her revenge, she can’t feel it.

Revenge is often never as fulfilling as we think it will be, because the harm that’s been done isn’t fixed by that revenge. As a reader, you’re fixated on the supposed satisfaction of witnessing slavers gain their comeuppance, while also having to experience through Sully the visceral reality that healing is never truly so straight forward. The fact that Rivers Solomon was so deftly capable of examining the complexity of trauma, the desire for violence and retribution as a response to it, and the ongoing process of closing the wounds left over, is a testament to Solomon’s skills as a story teller and their unique way of exposing the harshness of the human condition.

The brilliant and perhaps beautiful thing of Blood is Another Word for Hunger is the way in which Sully finally does get that release she so desperately hungers for. Excising the mechanism of her revenge in a literal and metaphorical act of rebirth, barring spoilers, was one of the single most intense scenes I’ve read from Solomon.

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The Epilogue

The world is, as always, a tumultuous place. While we escape into books in our downtime, we should always be mindful of what’s going on in our uptime. Nigeria has been going through a multi-decade crisis with SARS, a special police force that abuses its power by terrorizing the people of Nigeria. Being based in America, it’s imperative that we not ignore global police-based injustices, especially ones born from colonialism and imperialism that ours and other governments have been a part of. Below I have links where you can learn more, find information on donations, and additional sources from those living in Nigeria.

End SARS Carrd
Contextual Primer on the Youth-led Anti-Police Movement in Nigeria
Nigerians to Keep up #EndSars Pressure
Young People are Using Social Media to Drive Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality
End SARS Talk with the Black Prose Book Club and Noria from Chronicles of Noria

Support the Blog

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2 comments

  1. Enjoyed the review. Thought this story was disturbing and rich with meaning. I was especially attentive to how the violence was described because I thought the descriptions shifted depended on who it happened to. I still haven’t fully processed it and should re-read at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely one I think I’m going to re-read at some point. For a story so short it was so packed with emotion and imagery. I think that’s one of Solomon’s strengths as a writer.

      Like

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