The Book Of Phoenix
Ashes To Ashes
Release Date: 7 May
232 pages | Hardback/ ebook Author: Nnedi Okorafor Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
For her follow- up to
last year’s Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor has gone back to the past, with a prequel to her World Fantasy Award- winning Who Fears Death. To put it simply, The Book Of Phoenix is the build- up to the apocalypse that Who Fears Death is post.
Like the previous novels, it puts Africa and Africans front and centre of its imagined future, with a particular focus on the relationship between Africans and the United States. Phoenix is an “accelerated organism”, born and raised – in a way that gives her four decades of physical and mental development in two years – in one of a network of US laboratories devoted to producing genetically and cybernetically modified beings.
Okorafor draws on communication traditions old and new – first- person oral storytelling, the instant global reach of social media – and provides a strong sense of place in locations stretching across two continents. Since most of the people used to create the hybrid creatures are African and AfricanAmerican, she also uses her SF future to explore parallels between the enslavement of Africans in the past, and modern institutional racism and exploitation. Phoenix – who has wings and can set things on fire just by touching them – is an arresting character: thoughtful, rash, caring and increasingly ( justifiably) angry. A short, sharp novel, which packs a lot of thematic and action- sequence punch. Nic Clarke One inspiration: African- American woman Henrietta Lacks, who died in 1951 but whose cells are still used for research.