“Dystopia is everywhere,” the Jamaican-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson once said. “Particularly for peoples who are surviving the effects of colonialism and globalization, the apocalypse done happened already.” That might explain why the dystopian future depicted in Hopkinson’s award-winning first novel looks so much like many poor people’s lives in the present. Set in a blighted Toronto where basic healthcare, working vehicles and even running water are unaffordable luxuries, enjoyed only by wealthy people who have relocated to the suburbs, it follows Ti-Jeanne, a young woman of West Indian origin who possesses the unsettling ability to foresee strangers’ deaths. Torn between the drug-addicted father of her newborn child and the brusque grandmother who raised her, Ti-Jeanne is forced to take on the city’s sadistic mob-boss overlord in a battle to end her family’s suffering. A hybrid of sci-fi, fantasy, eye-popping horror and Afro-Caribbean lore, the eloquent Brown Girl in the Ring is a true original—and the savior at its center is a beacon of strength in the body of a young single mother. —Judy Berman

Buy Now: Brown Girl in the Ring on Bookshop | Amazon

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.