Mind-Bending Reads of 2014

As I said in my Best Novels of 2014 post, last year was a great year for reading, so much so that I want to do another list. There were a couple of books I read that didn’t make my list of favourites, and that I might not even have liked as much as books that didn’t make either of these lists. Nevertheless, there was something special about each of them – they offered things I’d never encountered before, gave me interesting idea to ponder, showed me different ways of doing things, or made me question my own assumptions and biases.

Here they are, in the order that I read them:

LagoonLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

I’ve enjoyed Okorafor’s short stories but I struggled to connect with Lagoon, partly because it’s got loads of characters who you never get to know well enough, and partly because the story just failed to satisfy. That said, it very satisfyingly takes the epic alien invasion narrative out of the usual US setting (I get very very tired of these stories always happening in the States) and places it in Lagos, Nigeria, where the city’s chaos is deemed more suitable to the aliens’ plans. Okorafor lovingly depicts a city both frightening and fascinating, and weaves in local folklore and mythology. I particularly liked the part about a dangerous road depicted as a literal monster that eats the people and vehicles travelling on it. Lots of readers loved this book and despite my reservations I’d still encourage others to give it a shot.

The Mirror EmpireThe Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

I’ve only recently started reading epic fantasy with any kind of regularity, and since politics has never been my strong point I often struggle to focus on those aspects of the plot. It’s particularly difficult in The Mirror Empire because Hurley is so incredibly inventive and works damn hard to avoid all the tired traditions of the genre. So there’s a lot of wildly imaginative, totally unfamiliar stuff to take in, along with a very complicated political plot involving diverse nations and peoples with varying social structures. But the things that make it a challenge also make it an amazing book that feels like nothing else I’ve ever read. Hurley builds a whole new world from the ground up. Instead of horses and forests, there are bears and carnivorous jungles. Instead of misogynist feudal societies there is an egalitarian polyamorous society based on consent, a society that recognises multiple genders, and misandrist matriarchy full of female warriors and male concubines. There are vegetarian cannibals, a magic system based on astronomy… Basically, if you want epic fantasy with a strong emphasis on the fantasy, then you should read this book.

The Three-Body ProblemThe Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

As with The Martian, I tried to challenge myself by reading hard sf, while also expanding my reading with Chinese sf. This one proved to be a much more demanding, with some very technical content that went waaay over my head. It’s also a historical novel, with parts of the narrative set during China’s Cultural Revolution and lots of references to that period and Chinese culture. This could make the book pretty alienating at times, but I still enjoyed it. The real drawcard is an epic story of first contact deeply influenced by the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. The story moves slowly, but when it’s good, it’s magnificent. The only reason I didn’t rate it higher is that it’s has a lot of flat characters, including an incredibly dull POV character who is little more than a tool to move the plot around. Still, The Three-Body Problem sets a thrilling story in motion, and I’m looking forward to the sequels, which several people have suggested I will enjoy much more.

We Have Always FoughtWe Have Always Fought by Kameron Hurley

Yes, Kameron Hurley has two entries on this little list. I would recommend this book to ALL sff readers and writers. Seriously, EVERYONE. Kameron Hurley won a Hugo award for her essay “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative”, on false assumptions about the roles of women in history (eg. that women don’t fight in wars), and the subsequent depiction of women in sff. This book is her collection of blog posts about sff, writing and publishing, most of which are similarly political. And it is a brilliant, eye-opening, mind-broadening read. Hurley points out how unthinking some genre stories can be, while offering myriad ideas for thinking more acutely about character, race, gender, worldbuilding, plot, etc. Reading it might make you feel frustrated to notice how wide-ranging these problems are or make you feel disappointed in favourite stories you’ve never questioned before, but it’ll also help you appreciate authors who think beyond the norms and make the effort to write better worlds.

This book also gave me even greater appreciation for Hurley’s novels, which I already admire. She often writes with unflinching honesty about the difficulties of writing fiction, getting your work published, and trying to get it sold. Along the way she offers loads of insights into her own novels, frequently making me want to go back and look at something I missed or reassess something I judged unkindly (like my annoyance with a sickly, disabled protagonist in The Mirror Empire). I didn’t put it on my list of favourites only because some of the essays are a bit boring, and can get a bit ranty and repetitive, tending to blur into one another if you read it cover to cover. That doesn’t make this any less of an absolute must-read.

Do you ever try to expand your reading? Did you read any eye-openers last year?

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

LagoonTitle: Lagoon
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Published: 10 April 2014
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: science fiction, fantasy
Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 6/10

An alien ship crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos. The polluted waters become pure and salty-sweet, and teem with fantastical marine and alien life. Just before the event, three people were wandering towards each other on Bar Beach – Adaora (a marine biologist), Agu (a soldier), and Anthony (a famous rapper). Then the sea itself rears up to swallow them for a meeting with the aliens that changes their lives forever.

When they awake on shore a shape-shifting alien is with them, in the form of a woman who Adaora names Ayodele. They take her back to Adaora’s home laboratory to conduct a few simple tests and decide what to do, but the situation quickly spirals out of their control.

Adaora, Agu and Anthony want to protect Ayodele, so they her help send out peaceful messages to Lagos and the world. Adaora’s maid Philo tells her boyfriend Moziz about the alien, and he and his friends decide to kidnap Ayodele and make her print money for them, assuming that if the technologically advanced aliens can shape-shift, they can create money out of thin air. Moziz’ friend Jacobs is in on the money-making plan but also has hopes for living openly as a transvestite, given that an LGBT student organisation is trying to use the shape-shifting aliens in a campaign for inclusivity. When Adaora’s newly religious husband Chris finds out, he tells his priest, Father Oke, who tries to make the aliens part of his congregation. Many people try to flee the city, where some are reacting to the alien presence with riots, looting and violence. The aliens in turn react to humanity with curiosity and kindness, but also devastating brutality.

It’s a story in which Lagos itself is part of the narrative. Adaora suggests that the aliens chose the city because “If they’d landed in New York, Tokyo or London, the governments of these places would have quickly swooped in to hide, isolate and study the aliens. Here in Lagos, there was no such order.” It’s a city of contradictions. With all its walls and gates, Chris says, “It’s secure but there is no security.” Adaora describes it as a city where everyone wants to leave but no one ever goes; people want to return as soon as they step out. The city is “riddled with corruption” but she can’t imagine living anywhere else.

The writing is flavoured with Nigerian culture – there are lots of local words and expressions, and some of the characters speak in pidgin English, which takes some getting used to. There is a glossary at the back of the book, but I didn’t find this until I’d finished, and it could be highly impractical for eBook readers who want to flip back and forth.

Culture, social circumstances, religion and folklore also play a major role. Adaora is having serious personal problems with her husband Chris, who has become convinced that Adaora is not merely a marine biologist but a marine witch (the worst kind of witch) and that the home laboratory he built for her is a witch’s den. It was when he turned to physical violence that Adaora stormed out and went to Bar Beach where the ocean engulfed her.

Chris isn’t the only one thinking of witches though; many Lagosians see the aliens from the perspective of traditional beliefs, of which witches and shape-shifters are a part. Adaora mentions that she wishes her grandmother could have seen the aliens, because she believed in shape-shifters. Of course not everyone is optimistic – lots of people think the aliens are evil and a threat to deeply ingrained beliefs. When more of the aliens emerge and take human form, the violence escalates. It’s also influenced by poverty and hardship. As Agu notes, people are using it as an opportunity to take out their frustrations.

Creatures from myth and folklore also appear. I thought they were the aliens in other forms, but they’re the creatures themselves. One of my favourite scenes is when a gravelly monster – the personification of a dangerous road – rises up and faces an alien who has taken the form of a Nigerian soap opera celebrity.

Thus science fiction and fantasy become entwined to the point that you can’t fit this book neatly in either genre. Aliens are the stuff of sf and Ayodele describes her race as being technology, but since we have so little understanding of how they do things that their abilities feel like magic. Like the way they alter the marine life in the ocean by giving the creatures what they desire. A swordfish in the opening chapter becomes a big, badass monster (this chapter is the story “Moom!” in Okorafor’s collection Kabu Kabu). The aliens hack into human technology so that crystal clear video broadcasts appear appear on TVs, computers and phones, even if it goes beyond the devices’ capabilities. It’s sci fi that feels like fantasy. Adaora talks about taking refuge in science, but she, Agu and Anthony have all had powerful, fantastical abilities since childhood, none of which she can explain in scientific terms.

Not that Adaora has the luxury of studying the aliens or her abilities; there’s too much going on. For the reader though, there isn’t actually much of a plot. The As – Adaora, Agu and Anthony – have vague goals, which include getting the sickly Nigerian president to negotiate with the aliens, but their plans are frequently thwarted, so progress is slow. In addition the story frequently hops to other POVs, many of which do not contribute to the main plot, although they add texture and colour to the bigger picture.

And there are loads of POV characters – the three As, Adaora’s husband Chris, their kids Kola and Fred, Adaora’s maid Philo, Philo’s boyfriend Moziz, his friend Jacobs, Jacobs’s prostitute sister Fisayo, a mute child, Father Oke. And those are just the recurring characters. We also hear from a 419 scammer, a bat, and a seven-legged spider.

It’s a riot of a story, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Anthony mentions, Lagos rhymes with chaos, and the city is chaotic even on an average day. The arrival of the aliens sends it into overdrive, and the novel gives us a large, detailed sketch of what that looks like. You get the sense that this is a massive, wild story that can’t be easily contained, so Okorafor chose to depict it as such rather than going for a more traditionally streamlined narrative. And she handles it pretty well – it’s fairly easy to keep track of everything.

But, admittedly, I struggled to get invested in the story. I’d start to engage with a particular character’s struggles, only to be whisked off to see through other POVs. The three As and Ayodele get the most page-time, but I found them to be the least interesting characters. In all the chaos, I was never sure what would happen and or what I wanted to happen; I just sat back and watched it unfold. It’s all open-ended, and the novel closes without any major resolutions. It’s more like the beginning of what will be a long, epochal story, but Okorafor didn’t intend to write a sequel. What’s also frustrating is that we never see the aliens in their “true” forms, never learn what happens when they speak to the humans underwater, and only have a vague idea of what they want. It’s a contact story focused almost entirely on the human reaction in Lagos.

I wouldn’t say this is badly written in the way that some novels with too many characters and POVs are. It’s a kind of planned chaos, rather than a story gone amorphously out of control, and I have no criticisms of Okorafor’s writing. So I can appreciate what she did with novel, even if I didn’t get as wrapped up in it as I would have liked to. Time will tell if it’s made enough of an impression on me that I’ll start to admire it more, or if it’s going to fade from memory. But hey, that gorgeous Joey Hi-Fi cover drove me to buy the book in print, so I’ll probably read it again one day.

Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor – review part 2

Kabu KabuTitle: Kabu Kabu
Nnedi Okorafor
Published: 2 October 2013
Prime Books
short stories, fantasy, science fiction
 eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

There was a lot I wanted to discuss about this collection, so I split the review. Part 1 is an introduction and deals with the folklore/mythology and politics that come up in the stories. Part 2 will deal with culture, miscellaneous observations, and wrap up the review.

Okorafor is American-born, and several of the stories involve the cross-cultural experiences of American Nigerians. In “Kabu Kabu”, Ngozi speaks about how much she misses Nigeria, while the driver of her taxi – an Igbo man – criticises her for not being Nigerian enough. Ngozi reappears as a child in “The House of Deformities”, where she and her sister Adoabi are visiting rural Nigeria. It’s based on a true story and is the first short story Okorafor ever wrote. For the most part, Ngozi and Adoabi love Nigeria and don’t mind the electricity being switched off at 8pm, having to wash in cold water, or not having TV. They’re not looking forward to going back to the states. The story is driven by their only real concerns: a scary news report about a man who kidnaps children (which feeds into Adoabi’s love of Stephen King and Clive Barker’s horror novels) and Ngozi’s revulsion at the toilets, which tend to be broken, disgusting, or absent.

“On the Road” features a Chicago cop staying with her grandmother and Aunt in a village, where she opens the door to a monster. Her grandmother scolds her for her lack of common sense:

“If you see a monster at your doorstep, the wise thing to do is shut the door.” She sucked her teeth and shook her head. “You Americanized Nigerians. No instinct.”

One thing that all the Nigerians love, no matter where they were born, is the food: fried plantain, punted yam, “egusi soup heavy with goat meat and stock fish”, spicy jollof rice, sweet fresh fruit. What intrigued me most was the palm wine, made by tapping the sweet sap of a palm tree and fermenting it. According to Nigerian culture, climbing and tapping palm trees is something only men are supposed to do. Not that that stops Okorafor’s women. In “The Popular Mechanic”, a father shows pride and affection for his daughter because she climbs and taps the palm trees to make wine for him. In “The Palm Tree Bandit”, Okorafor rebels against tradition through a story of a woman who secretly taps palm trees at night. There’s a touch of fantasy to it, and the ‘bandit’ eventually develops into a myth that revolutionises the culture.

The tension between women and culture comes up frequently in Kabu Kabu. I say “tension” because it’s not a simple matter of women being bound up within traditional, typically sexist cultures and being unable to do anything about it. Okorafor’s characters frequently resist tradition, work around it or just ignore it. They might give a nod to tradition but they won’t bow to it. In the post-apocalyptic “Tumaki” a young Muslim woman and her parents understand the need for hijab in their society, but at the same time she’s a skilled mechanic and spends most of her free time reading in her personal library. “Spider the Artist” initially seems to have a depressingly downtrodden woman:

No matter my education, as soon as I got married and brought to this damn place, I became like every other woman here, a simple village woman […] whose husband knocks her around every so often.

Rather than being defined as a victim however, she can contextualise her situation, finds an escape in the beautiful guitar music she plays, and goes on to form the most interesting and progressive relationship in the book.

Naturally, issues of sexuality and the body come up too. “How Inyang Got Her Wings” demonstrates a kind of female beauty that is very different from the western ideal (although no less harmful). Inyang, who has a lithe, muscular body, does not consider herself to be as attractive as her large sisters:

Inyang envied the way their huge squashy behinds and legs jiggled under their colorful rapas and how their lumpy arms couldn’t even wrap around their melon breasts. They were beautiful and normal.

Inyang knows she will never be sent to the fattening huts, where young women are made beautiful by being kept in seclusion, fed fattening foods and circumcised before marriage.  Inyang was born with dada hair – dreadlocks – and women with dada hair are considered undesirable, believed to be the children of an evil water goddess. Nevertheless, she finds a kind of freedom in her ‘ugliness’. Her muscular body makes it easier to run through the forest, and because she doesn’t have to worry about virginity or marriage, she can enjoy acting on her sexual desires and chooses several lovers instead of being betrothed to one person. This is what made this one of my favourite stories in the anthology – not only is it a great coming-of-age story, it’s rare to see a YA tale where a young woman gets to enjoy sexual freedom like this, while also having to deal with the consequences. Most of the Windseeker stories address the sexual desires of the protagonist.

With themes and characters like this, not to mention the folklore and mythology I discussed in part one of this review, anyone who knows my tastes can understand why I like this collection. “Spider the Artist” and “How Inyang Got Her Wings” were my favourite stories and I enjoyed most of the others or at least some gem of an idea or a character within them.

There was nothing I actively disliked; my least favourite stories were just the ones that didn’t do much for me. War and real-world politics don’t resonate very strongly with me, even though they fit perfectly here. The political stories I enjoyed usually hooked me with something else. Some of the stories are just casual little bites of entertainment that amuse without making a strong impression, like “Long Juju Man” about a child trying to get a basket of eggs to her aunt without a prankster ghost breaking them, or “The Ghastly Bird”, about the dodo and an academic who loves them. “Asunder” is a more serious parable about love. “The Baboon War”, Okorafor admits, uses a cliche about black people fighting with baboon, but she says this actually happened to her mother; she just put a more fantastical spin on it for this tale. I quite liked “The Carpet”, a horror story about an evil carpet that has the classic feel of a haunted object story, but in a unique situation (also based on one of Okorafor’s experiences when visiting Nigeria).

This reminds me – be sure to read Okorafor’s notes at the end of the collection, as she gives brief insights into her stories. However, you can skip Whoopi Goldberg’s introduction, which is just a pointless bit of fluff praising the book. Not that it doesn’t deserve praise. Fans who are serious about broadening their sff horizons or who are always looking for something fresh and thought-provoking should undoubtedly be reading this.

Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor – review part 1

Kabu KabuTitle: Kabu Kabu
Nnedi Okorafor
Published: 2 October 2013
Prime Books
short stories, fantasy, science fiction
eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Note: I have split this review into two parts.

Kabu Kabu is American-Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor’s first short story anthology. Drawing on her heritage and personal experience, she offers up an array of fantasy and science fiction based on the culture clashes of Nigerians visiting from America, Nigerian folklore and mythology, the power and vulnerability of women in traditional cultures, and the politics of a land being pillaged for oil by western corporations.

I’ve really come to appreciate short stories this past year, and this collection feels fresh and exciting, partly because African influences aren’t often seen in these genres, and partly because Okorafor has such a wonderful imagination. Traditional lifestyles are seamlessly melded with futuristic tech, politics finds its expression in fantasy, and Okorafor writes rural Nigeria with rich colours, tastes and depths, avoiding the dreary pessimism or stupid romanticism than you too often find in stories about African countries. Her stories are also full of intelligent, determined women breaking the stereotypes of tradition.

The collection opens, appropriately, with “The Magical Negro”, a parody of the magical Negro trope found in American cinema. In doing so, Okorafor brushes aside stereotypical portrayals of black Africans, making way for the people who populate her tales.

“Kabu Kabu” also serves as an introduction of sorts, and I can see why the collection is named after it. Okorafor and co-author Alan Dean Foster transport the reader from a familiar environment (Chicago – western, American) into a more fantastical one. Ngozi, a 30-something lawyer, is late for her flight to Nigeria, where she is going to celebrate her sister’s wedding. The taxi she takes to the airport is a kabu kabu – an illegal Nigerian taxi. “Heroin drop-offs, 419 scams, and all sorts of other Nigerian-oriented shady business flashed through her mind” and she can’t believe got stuck with a sexist, reckless Nigerian driver in an illegal cab before even getting to the airport. Her experience becomes even more outlandish when the driver starts picking up ‘masquerades’ – “mythical beings […] spirits and ancestors”. Not only is Ngozi in an awkward situation, she’s terrified by the creatures she encounters.

This is a good stepping stone for the stories that follow. At first I found them a tad disorienting, because the folklore and mythology are unfamiliar. It’s not because it’s Nigerian per se – African settings are not new to me – but folklore and mythology in general is pretty fucking weird and often it’s only your familiarity with it that allows you to forget that. So these stories could be alienating. In the horror story “On the Road” a supernatural event is preceded by the presence of numerous green and orange lizards. Then a woman has her hands amputated, before seeing a giant lizard made out of hot gravel rise from the road, with vines from the forest wrapping around it. And I had no bloody idea what the point was. Much like Ngozi can’t comprehend the creatures that get into the taxi with her.

But Ngozi eventually accepts the bizarre nature of the taxi, and one of the things I really like about this anthology is that the more you read, the better-acquainted you become with the culture, its mythology and politics. You might go in with many of the same stereotypes that flashed through Ngozi’s mind, but by the end you have a more nuanced understanding. For example, large green lizards make a brief appearance in one of the later stories as creatures from the spirit world. The lizards in “On the Road” suddenly make a bit more sense. A cute story called “Long Juju Man” a little girls tells us how everyone in the village knows about ghosts and how they love to eat rotten fruit. She runs into the legendary Long Juju Man – a sorcerer (“juju” is magic) who loved to play pranks, and died when he fell into a deep pit he’d dug for someone else. In “Bakasi Man”, I came across the line “Like my mother always says, ‘He who digs a pit for others will inevitably fall into it.'” It’s a simple phrase, but knowing the origin enriches the meaning.

“Bakasi Man” itself is about a hunchback, and apparently:

hunchbacks are not normal people. Even when they die, security has to be stationed at the gravesite for at least the first year, to prevent robbers from digging them up. It’s the hump that people want. A hunchback’s hump is said to be the source of his or her great power.

The story entwines folklore with politics, as a hunchbacked man rises to power by exploiting inter-tribal conflict. Okorafor is ambiguous about the hump – it is really the source of power, or is it powerful because people believe in it?

Tribal conflict comes up again in desperately bleak “The Black Stain”, a post-apocalyptic story about a family from a privileged tribe (the Uche) that loathes and enslaves another tribe (the Okeke). One interesting aspect of this story is that the Uche hate the Okeke because of their association with technology, which seems to have had a role in the unnamed apocalyptic event(s). Ironically, the Uche family make their money by selling scavenged computer parts. At first it seems like the story is very rural, very traditional (and very stereotypical), until you realise that it’s actually futuristic and society has passed through a technologically advanced stage only to be returned to a basic existence by unnamed post-apocalyptic events.

What makes the story so bleak is not just the grotesque racism or the setting, but what inspired it – the “Ewu” a monstrous child born of weaponised rape. Again, the story is ambiguous about the supernatural: it’s unclear whether monstrosity is ‘real’, or if it comes from the prejudice and oppression ingrained in those beliefs.

There are also four related stories about Windseekers – people who can fly and control the wind. They used to be a common sight in the skies, but in recent times people have ceased to believe in them and persecute them as witches.

The first of these stories is “How Inyang Got Her Wings” about a young woman who starts to fly when she hits puberty. Here we pick up the first few details of the Windseeker mythos – how Windseekers have ‘dada hair’ (dreadlocks), have a close connection with nature, and need to follow tradition by finding their soul mates if they wish to avoid disaster. “The Winds of Harmattan”, tells the story of Inyang’s aunt Asuquo, who was also a Windseeker. Like Inyang, she has a strong sexual appetite and men quickly become infatuated with her, but because she fails to marry the right man, she’s doomed.

Inyang appears decades later as a woman named Arro-yo (although I didn’t realise this until I read Okorafor’s notes at the end of the book) in the stories “Windseekers” and “Biafra”. “Windseekers” takes place in the lush science-fantasy-ish land of Ginen with its plant skyscrapers and organic tech. Inyang/Arro-yo has always resisted tradition and it’s in this story that we see the effects – the violent sexual tension between her and the man she should have married.

In “Biafra”, Arro-yo returns to Nigeria after travelling the world for many years, only to find it completely changed and in the middle of the Biafran War. Feeling guilty for selfishly staying away for so long, Arro-yo uses her powers as a Windseeker to alleviate as much suffering as she can, and this story has the most heart-wrenching scene in the anthology.

“Biafra” is one of the more brutal stories, but political issues come up often to drive the story or form its background. Another set of related stories deals with the the extraction of oil from Nigeria. One of these – Spider the Artist – was my absolute favourite from the anthology. A lonely unemployed woman is abused by her husband and as an escape, she sits in her backyard playing beautiful music on her father’s guitar. Sitting in her yard is dangerous though – oil pipelines run through it, and in the near-future world of this story, spider robots patrol the pipes against people who try to steal fuel, brutally slaughtering anyone who so much as touches them. The spider robots are known as Zombies, “the same name we call those “kill-and-go” soldiers who come in here harassing us every time something bites their brains.” What I loved about this tale was the relationship that forms between the narrator and a Zombie who comes to listen to her play music.

The events of “Spider the Artist” are rewritten in “The Popular Mechanic”. Here, the spider robots do not exist, but one of the main characters laments that the government has turned its people into “Robot zombies scrambling for a sip of fuel”, since locals can only get fuel illegally even though millions of litres are pumped out of the country every day. He becomes part robot himself, after he loses an arm in an explosion. His arm is replaced by a prototype mechanical arm that a western company is testing on Nigerians – a form of exploitation hiding behind the seeming benevolence of free advanced medical care.

The protagonist of “Icon” – an African-American journalist – portrays the oil issue from the other side of the fence:

The story was significant because the culprits were from the NDPM, the Niger Delta People’s Movement, a Nigerian terrorist organization bent on sabotaging and destroying any efforts Shell and other oil companies made to extract oil from this strip of the Niger Delta.

The journalist is not really invested in the issue though; he just wants a story like Shell wants Nigeria’s oil.

What I also wanted to discuss was the culture that is depicted in Kabu Kabu, random observations and my overall thoughts about the collection, but that made the review too long for one post. I’ll post the rest in a day or two 🙂

Up for Review: Kabu Kabu

I’ve been meaning to read Nnedi Okorafor for a while, and so far I’ve only read a few of her short stories. Luckily, Prime Books is releasing a whole anthology of them 🙂

Kabu Kabu

Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor (Prime Books)

NetGalley Blurb:

Kabu kabu—unregistered illegal Nigerian taxis—generally get you where you need to go. Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu Kabu, however, takes the reader to exciting, fantastic, magical, occasionally dangerous, and always imaginative locations you didn’t know you needed. This debut short story collection by an award-winning author includes notable previously  published material, a new novella co-written with New York Times-bestselling author Alan Dean Foster, six additional original stories, and a brief foreword by Whoopi Goldberg.

Kabu Kabu will be published on 2 October 2013 by Prime Books.

Prime Books

About the Author
Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and is a tenured professor at Chicago State University. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her daughter Anyaugo.
Though American-born, Nnedi’s muse is Nigeria. Her parents began taking her and her siblings to visit relatives there when she was very young. Because Nigeria is her muse, this is where many of her stories take place, either literally or figuratively.
Because she grew up wanting to be an entomologist and even after becoming a writer maintained that love of insects and nature, her work is always filled with startlingly vivid flora and fauna.
And because Octavia Butler, Stephen King, Philip Pullman, Tove Jansson, Hayao Miyazaki, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o are her greatest influences, her work tends to be…on the creative side. – from the author’s website