Binti (2015) by Nnedi Okorafor

In the spirit of the newly announced BSFA shortlist, let’s go topsy-turvy and start the week with a 2015 review. This book happens to appear on the list.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

BintiNnedi Okorafor’s Tor novella Binti first caught my attention with its cover: a solemn young woman smearing an orange paint on her face, situated over a starfield background. I normally dislike covers with people on them, but the look on her face is so disarming. What is she up to and what is that substance, exactly? Continue reading

BSFA Shortlist Review: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

lagoonLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Setting: Lagos, Nigeria

Summary: A scientist, a soldier, and a rapper lead this multi-character exploration of Lagos in the midst of first contact with aliens.

Actual summary: A social peephole into Nigerian society.

Synopsis quote/Commentary about Western politics: We can work with you people, the alien tells the people of Nigeria.

How it feels: Hyper and lampooning. Primarily dialogue-driven, with some confusing head-hopping in scenes. Might disappoint critical readers with its initial pedestrian style, but the second half of the novel drives home Okorafor’s dark and funny observations about Nigerian social sectors, civil unrest, and mob mentality.

Characters you’ll meet: Shapeshifters and crossdressers, profiteering preachers and machete-wielding youths, a crazy Christian church lady and some level-headed Muslims. Oh, and a highway that eats people. (Nigeria and Texas have a lot in common.)

Best enjoyed: The audio format is supreme, and available in the U.S. (The book will be released in the U.S. in July.) The Nigerian performers are brilliant and wonderful and SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR THIS YEAR’S AUDIE AWARDS AND WERE NOT.

Unanswered question: So why do all of the main characters’ names begin with ‘A’? They ask, but did I miss the alien’s answer?

Should you read this? Yes. Yes, you should read this.

Irrelevant observation: I get excited when giant story-weaving spiders show up in books. What’s that about?


This review is part of an 8-part review series on the 2014 British Science Fiction Association Best Novel Shortlist. The winner will be announced at the BSFA ceremony at Eastercon on Sunday, April 5.

Previous BSFA Shortlist Reviews:
Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson
The Race by Nina Allan
Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge
The Moon King by Neil Williamson

Upcoming BSFA Shortlist Review:
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Wolves by Simon Ings