Life intervened yesterday, so it’s a double bill of #DiverseDecember recommendations today.
Nudibranch – Irenosen Okojie
Irenosen Okojie’s short stories are unpredictable, wild, inventive, magical and often heart-wrenching rides. In Nudibranch we meet – amongst others – a woman losing herself; time-travelling silent monks; some unexpected zombies; a heart-eating goddess; mechanical boys, and an albino man who brings fountains to a small town in Mozambique.
Perhaps the standout story in the collection is the winner of the 2020 AKO Cane Prize for African Writing ‘Grace Jones’. The tale of a Grace Jones’ impersonator, Okojie is interested in who this woman really is; what is she hiding behind her lookalike costume? It’s a breath-taking, hard hitting story and you can read it here.
Earthseed: Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents – Octavia E. Butler
In a dystopian North America, Lauren Oya Olamina lives in a gated community with her family – her academic / preacher father, her stepmum and her siblings. Lauren is hyperempathetic which means she feels the pain of other living creatures. This creates a vulnerability that can be dangerous for her. When the compound is attacked, she begins a journey north, collecting other people along the way. Lauren decides to start preaching her ideas for a new religion which believes that ‘God is Change’.
Parable of the Talents is narrated by Lauren’s daughter Asha Vere along with diary entries from Lauren. These help Asha to understand her mother and how she has ended up in her current situation. While the first book is focused on community, there is a shift in the second to family. Events are played out against a backdrop of a rising political figure called Andrew Steele Jarret. Jarret is a Christian fundamentalist / White supremacist whose slogan is ‘Make America Great Again’. Yes, really. These books are gripping and fascinating.
Nudibranch is published by Dialogue Books; Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are published by Headline. All copies are my own.