I wish this book had been written back while I was in university writing my master's dissertation. It really would have added to the discussion on ideI wish this book had been written back while I was in university writing my master's dissertation. It really would have added to the discussion on identity issues with regards to gender, race and sexuality, and would have fit perfectly alongside Octavia E. Butler's Wild Seed and Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads (which were the two books around which I constructed my study). N.K. Jemisin's debut novel really made me want to go back to university and pursue a thesis. This book is so rich, complex, beautifully written, at times fast-paced, at others introspective and touching, sexy. The world-building is excellent and the characters exquisitely rendered. This is exactly the book I wanted to read! It pushed all the right buttons.
I've always had a soft spot for books (genre or otherwise) that dealt with questions of identity, probably because these are the questions I struggle with on daily basis. And I do mean identity in a very general sense: sexual and/or racial representation, fragmented identity based on context, notions of minority and majority, normalcy, dominating and dominated. All these are very flexible notions depending on history (personal or History), context, interactions, etc. And this is what I enjoyed above all in THTK, everything is flexible, ever-changing and the character which most embodies this is Nahadoth, God of all that is extreme, dark and passionate. His apparance constantly changes to please and seduce all those around him. It's a fascinating concept really.
There is also much to say on the main character. Yeine (pronounced "YAY-neh") is one of a kind and is really up to the task of carrying this remarkable, multi-layered narration. The reader aches and easily relates to her as we discover her struggling between her upbringing (she was raised in a matriarchal society, I wish we'd learned more about that in the book, it is sooo cool!), her royal inheritance and a little something else which I won't go into lest I spoil you all of this wonderful plot twist. Little more than a pawn in the eyes of most of her royal peers, she will manage to turn things around and make with all that she is, bring all the pieces together but not into some nicely homogeneous whole.
It's a truly brilliant book and so much needs to be said about it. I am, of course, eagerly awaiting book 2, The Broken Kingdoms, which comes out this November. In the meantime, I can already tell you that THTK easily ranks among my favorite reads of 2010 (and my favorite reads period). I look forward to re-reading it in French when it comes out in Calmann-Lévy's wonderful and really underrated Interstices series.
I can't recommend this book enough, it grabbed me and didn't let me go until long after I'd finished and set it down....more
I've been keeping an eye on this novel for quite a while now having read and enjoyed all that is written by Aliette de Bodard and available online.
I'lI've been keeping an eye on this novel for quite a while now having read and enjoyed all that is written by Aliette de Bodard and available online.
I'll admit that my interest was initially triggered because the author is French (hey, fellow countrywoman!) of Vietnamese descent, living in Paris, writing in English and fascinated by Mesoamerican cultures... how cool is that? I guess the student in me who's always been fascinated by issues of identity and how they are portrayed in speculative fiction took over and thought this may prove to be a very nice playground.
And it turned out to be just that and so much more. I know next to nothing about Aztec culture and it was a pleasure reading the book if only to get to know more about this civilization that is all too often portrayed as barbaric and blood-thirsty. You can tell there was a lot of research put into this book and I particularly enjoyed the little bonus at the end which gave the author a chance to explain how she want about doing her research, how she built her story around it, what was true, historical fact and what was fiction.
I was also glad to get to read Aliette de Bodard's prose in longer form but what I most enjoyed was her depiction of her main character, the conflicted Acatl, High Priest of the Dead. The ways in which he inwardly struggles with the decision he's made to be a priest when his parents would have him become a soldier, how he also experiences difficulties being a High Priest, a leader to the other priests. I could completely relate to this character who constantly tries to reconcile his own desires with that which is expected of him.
While I greatly enjoyed the richness of the setting, the perfect balance between fantasy, mystery and historical fiction, the solid suspenseful plot, for me, it's Acatl and the many ways through which I could relate to him that really got me. It's a new aspect of Aliette de Bodard's fiction I was pleased to discover as in short stories, it's often difficult to demonstrate the extent of one's talent at characterization.
Highly recommended whether you enjoy mystery novels, fantasy, historical fiction, Aztec culture and solid characterization. Surely one of those describes you. I'm eagerly waiting for the next installment and hope this gets translated in French and many other languages.
Also, I'd like to mention that prior to the publication of the novel, the author posted on her blog a series of posts giving details about the historical and geographical context of the novel. Definitely worth checking out. ...more
A wonderful new voice from the Caribbean, rich and original, which will enchant you at the beginning of each story. Highly recommended for those lookiA wonderful new voice from the Caribbean, rich and original, which will enchant you at the beginning of each story. Highly recommended for those looking for something fresh and new....more
A wonderful short novel about Tupac's influence on the African-American community, what he and his lyrics represented. A smart, complex and touching pA wonderful short novel about Tupac's influence on the African-American community, what he and his lyrics represented. A smart, complex and touching portrait of racial tensions and gender issues in the early nineties. Highly recommended to all....more
A very rich and highly original narrative both in terms of world-building and themes. This is middle grade fiction at its best. I was especially amazzA very rich and highly original narrative both in terms of world-building and themes. This is middle grade fiction at its best. I was especially amazzed at how the author mixed technology with nature. So imaginative! if you were as impressed as I were with this world, I recommend Nnedi Okorafor's short story published in Clarkesworld magazine: "From the Lost Diary of TreeFrog7". The short story is not YA but it give you another perspective on this wonderfully enchanting world the author's created.
I'll definitely be reading more of this author and not only because of work this time!...more
Now this is a comics everyone should read! Not only is the main character endearing and the story touching, the author does an amazing job at taking eNow this is a comics everyone should read! Not only is the main character endearing and the story touching, the author does an amazing job at taking elements from the african american experience (Jim Crow laws, etc.) and introducing them, rewriting them in an imaginary world. this is a true work of re-appropriation that you can enjoy on various levels. ...more
After the Haitian revolution (1791-1804) which freed the island from French domination and put an end to slavery, Jean-Jacques Dessalines comes into pAfter the Haitian revolution (1791-1804) which freed the island from French domination and put an end to slavery, Jean-Jacques Dessalines comes into power and rules as a despot. When he is murdered in 1806, the country is split in two: President Pétion rules over the South while Henri Christophe, proclaimed King Henry I, rules over the North.
The play tells the story of Christophe, from his accession to the throne to his death. It tells the story of men who freed their country from slavery and ended up turning into tyrants themselves. It's a very strong and poignant tragedy about decolonization which makes a point of highlighting the ridicule of Christophe's court which only aims at imitating the courts of Europe in search of legitimacy. It's a carefully constructed and written piece of work. Some images and phrases hold a very poetic note to them and sometimes you can't help but laugh out loud though you realize how sad the whole situation actually is. You fight for your freedom, you obtain it, you manage to keep it but what then? How are you to break the circle when you only have one model of governing to choose from?
A short read, a profound reflection. A must read for all those interested in issues of race and colonialism.
Brief note: I think the play deserved a proper introduction which gave a bit more context to the story but also to the place the story held in Césaire's work instead of the long and vague back cover it got. ...more