Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor

I have again reached into the ol' wallet and found a used copy of Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.  I had planned to donate this to the library, but the Amazon vendor sold me a page proof copy.  Not real cool, but that's for the Amazon review later.

For now, I enjoyed the book.  Many ethnic mythologies have been done to death in fantasy (Celtic, early Britain) but Africa has a long way to go.  This one is based in some future/alternate Sudan, where dark Okeke and light Nuru live as slave and master.  But of course there is much more to it.  Sorcery is a major force in people's lives, but sorcerers are very dangerous and no one would envy one.  The protagonist, Onyesonwu, is Ewu, a child of rape and thus shunned (a real practice in Sudan, the afterword says).  Her mother wishes sorcery upon her, and from there she is destined to change all.

The novel isn't furiously gripping, even though the imagery and situations are often pretty ugly.  Mostly one can detach from it.  Okorafor's descriptions of magic and how one invokes it are unique and interesting, though, and the characters are refreshing and lively even in their sadness and desperation.  The feel of the African desert is clear throughout.  If you want a good unique read, this would be one for you.  Hopefully your library has it.

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