Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

159 views
book discussions > Discussion: Binti

Comments Showing 1-50 of 70 (70 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by ColumbusReads (last edited Aug 11, 2018 06:31PM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
If anyone would like to lead the discussion for the September book of the month, Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor, please let me know. You can respond here or dm me. Thanks.


message 2: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
No better time than NOW! The Binti Trilogy $3.99 ea. $11.97 series.

Discussion begins September 1st!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06...


message 3: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
The complete Binti trilogy in the month of September!

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning set of novella’s

Just received my set and now ready to head to Oomza University.

Ready?.....

Binti
9/1 thru 9/9

Home
9/10 thru 9/18

The Night Masquerade
9/19 thru 9/27

Knowledge comes at a cost; one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy.


message 4: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Nnedi Okorafor won an award last night at the Hugo Awards. See the other nominees below:

The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Award for Best Young Adult Book

Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking) winner
The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Knopf)
In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)
A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK / Harry N. Abrams US)
Summer in Orcus, written by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), illustrated by Lauren Henderson (Sofawolf Press)


message 5: by D.S. (new)

D.S. This was a very pleasant surprise. When the book arrived I was a little taken aback. I had not heard much about it, even as so many others were all talking about it. I just missed out. Anyway, I had not expected a novella. Still, I noted the quote from Ursula K. Le Guin and knew that Okorafor was an award winner. So, I pretty much figured it would be a good read.

I ran through the book rather quickly and I have to admit, Ursula got it right. The world building in so few words, the imagery Okorafor creates, and the weaving together of culture, a sense of history, technology, and the fantastical were all so well done, I quickly forgave the hunger she left me with. I could see so much story in the few words provided, but that is the true wonder of her work. She does so much with so little.

Of course, I only have one major callout, and though I feel it in my mind as a continuing verse of complaint that pains me, I also acknowledge that this too is what writing as an art form is all about, the projecting of the world we live in onto a dimension created from whole cloth by the author.

SPOILER:
So, the callout for me is the realization that I so strongly believe in, that our future will banish a great deal of the hate we humans have for each other based on our differences, this future is not realized in Binti's world. In her world people of color don't bathe using water, or brilliant intellectually, kowtow to white people, and are second if not last-class citizens, consigned to a corner of our birth world, a rarity in the wider universe. I have to admit, I chaffed at this construct in the story. Still, it takes nothing from the power of the story and of course, this construct is at the core of the story and what truly differentiates Binti and makes her special.


message 6: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
D.S. wrote: "This was a very pleasant surprise. When the book arrived I was a little taken aback. I had not heard much about it, even as so many others were all talking about it. I just missed out. Anyway, I ha..."

Oh, D.S., there’s a wealth of things to comment on to this. Thanks for laying the groundwork. I’ll be chomping at the bit to get to it but I’ll be nice and wait til the 1st. I can now remove some of my introductory questions to the group though. Ha!


message 7: by D.S. (new)

D.S. Oh crud! Apologies! I jumped the gun! I was just trying to catch up on my backlog and thought I was late in this one. All I had to do was read. After all it is goodreads. My bad.


message 8: by ColumbusReads (last edited Aug 27, 2018 09:38AM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
D.S. wrote: "Oh crud! Apologies! I jumped the gun! I was just trying to catch up on my backlog and thought I was late in this one. All I had to do was read. After all it is goodreads. My bad."

No, no, no. You’re ok. The entire book will be open for discussion on day 1 anyway which is just a couple of days away. And you made note of spoiler so that’s fine.


message 9: by D.S. (new)

D.S. Gotcha. Thanks Columbus. Glad to get in on the convo.


message 10: by Melinda (last edited Aug 27, 2018 12:04PM) (new)

Melinda (mysterymel) | 3 comments Binti is an outstanding read - more important is the rest of trilogy. If you read Book 1, you are left wanting more, and she delivers! As a bookstore owner, I recc to adults and YA who have a more diverse reading palate. So far, NOT one reader has a negative comment and loved the trilogy. Enjoy - Children of Blood & Bone readers - Binti Trilogy - Enjoy


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 189 comments I've read the trilogy and didn't think the third was as good as the first two, but still highly recommend reading all 3.


message 12: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Some things to know about this discussion:

We are starting the Binti series tomorrow, September 1st, with the first book open entirely for discussion on the date designated (see above). Same for each subsequent book in the series.

It might be a good ideal to read the books in order. Unlike Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series and many others which one could describe as standalones within a series. Binti follows a narrative arc that should be read in order, one would think.

The books are still only $3.99 each for Kindle - Nook - Apple.

Have you read it yet? Come on and join in with us!


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Columbus wrote: "Some things to know about this discussion:

We are starting the Binti series tomorrow, September 1st, with the first book open entirely for discussion on the date designated (see above). Same for e..."


3 stars, eh? I am even more intrigued to know why when you are up to disclosing. I’ll read it tomorrow at some point. It made the cut to come with me to a kid sports tournament.


message 14: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 590 comments I read them before and the last book sometime earlier this year. Hopefully I can recall the main points in discussion. Thanks.


message 15: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy.

There are no spoiler alerts here for the first book in the series and therefore the entire book can be discussed.

The Binti discussion begins now....


message 16: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
The stunning new hardcover version of the Binti series has a foreword written by N. K. Jemisin. I typically wait til I’ve finished the book to avoid the piece revealing too much of it. However, I went ahead and read this one prior to reading the book and safe to say there’s no real land mines you need to avoid. Did anyone read this edition of the book?


message 17: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
The only problem to discussing the entire book on day one is there are so many things to talk about. So, I’m just going to bring up and ask questions randomly as they come to mind and you can feel free to do the same.

(Message #5 above) D.S. has one callout about the book where he “in her world people of color don’t bathe using water, or brilliantly intellectually, kowtow to white people, and are second if not last class citizens......”

Just curious about what others think of this?

Also D.S. You brought up the worldbuilding here as a strength in this book which is rather antithetical to many novellas. That’s often seen as a flaw in many sci-fi/fantasy work. If one were only to pick up the first book in this series they may come to a different conclusion. That the author inefficiently captured the backstory, history, people in this text. You felt differently, however.

Also, is this sci-fi or fantasy or a mixture?


message 18: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 590 comments I wonder if it falls under this newer genre which I still do not know much about like speculative fiction. I do believe that it does have a combination of syfy and fantasy as well as some insight of Africa culture as you read a little further. Then again I have read her other work that really does tap into the African culture like Akata Witch. Akata Warrior


message 19: by Lata (new)

Lata | 293 comments Nnedi Okorafor’s work is definitely speculative fiction, in that she incorporates different genres together while also talking about a number of present-day concerns.


message 20: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2874 comments Mod
I have read the novellas in the series as they were released. So I am not read the edition that Columbus has mentioned.

I also characterize this series as speculative fiction,
I am more comfortable using this broader definition as it allows for the writer to write the storyline they want instead of being scrutinized for a more specific definition of a a specific genre/subgenre.


message 21: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 590 comments Beverly wrote: "I have read the novellas in the series as they were released. So I am not read the edition that Columbus has mentioned.

I also characterize this series as speculative fiction,
I am more comfortab..."


I agree with you. I read them as they were released. I doubt that it differs if all together in one collection.


message 22: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments For some reason I didn't realize we were reading the trilogy, and so only have the first short novella. I don't want to start it until I am able to get the other two from the library, which may be a while because I am #8 on the holds list. Hopefully I might be able to pop in at the end of the month, but worst case, I can come back to the threads later after I've read all three.


message 23: by Izetta Autumn (new)

Izetta Autumn (izettaautumn) | 36 comments Adrienna wrote: "I wonder if it falls under this newer genre which I still do not know much about like speculative fiction. I do believe that it does have a combination of syfy and fantasy as well as some insight o..."

I agree with @Adrienna - to me this book is in the speculative fiction genre because of how it blends elements of magical realism, sci-fi, and fantasy.


message 24: by Nadine in California (last edited Sep 03, 2018 12:50PM) (new)

Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 189 comments The African Speculative Fiction Society started the "Nommo Awards" and they describe their genre as “science fiction, fantasy, stories of magic and traditional belief, alternative histories, horror and strange stuff that might not fit in anywhere else.” So that pretty much covers it!

I discovered them, along with lots more African SF news, in this article from the Los Angeles Review of Books. I haven't finished reading it yet, but it looks like it's chock full of links: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a...


message 25: by D.S. (new)

D.S. Speculative fiction is how i would classify it as well if forced to choose. The way she combines different elements to create the story was masterful.


message 26: by D.S. (new)

D.S. Columbus, definitely agree some may see her taking the time to build a world as inefficient with regard to developing the backstory, but I feel that in the creating of the story she stays true to the story itself and how it developed. It’s as much a thing feeling and evolving the tale as opposed to adhering to a given structure or process. I miss some backstory but it does not take away from the compelling nature of the tale.


message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments I’m a little more than halfway and wanted to love it, but it’s a fine, fine example of a novel that just isn’t my thing. I respect what Okorafor has done with Binti, and am looking forward to leading a discussion (in another group) this month of Akita Witch. But all of these non-human creatures and the way this world works leave me both cold and disinterested. It’s me, not her.

OTOH, I’m not tempted to abandon it, so props to Okorafor for keeping even the most reluctant non-speculative-fiction readers sufficiently engaged to finish it.


message 28: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Janice (JG) wrote: "For some reason I didn't realize we were reading the trilogy, and so only have the first short novella. I don't want to start it until I am able to get the other two from the library, which may be ..."

Janice, you are right. The first book in the series was the book voted on and is the primary discussion book. However, due to the book being basically a novella, we’ve included the other books in the series. We will be discussing the first book the entire month with the other two added to the discussion the dates indicated above.


message 29: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
For those who read earlier editions of the book, i can tell you that N.K. Jemisin’s foreword in the most recent edition is rather short. In fact, it’s only five pages long and much of it, maybe 80% of it, deals with Binti’s hair. Actually, there’s a heavy concentration of hair talk in the book and the sweet-smelling ojitze

What do you think about the hair focus on Binti Ekeopara Zulu Danbury Kaipka of Namib and the ojitze?


message 30: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I think Binti's hair is an incredibly important cultural thing since she is Himba. The Himba people in modern Namibia wear their hair in elaborate styles which indicate what stage of life they are in. The women also actually apply ojitze to their skin. I've read that it acts as sunscreen and mosquito repellant, but I have also read that the Himba say it is a cosmetic thing more like makeup. Since the men don't apply it, I tend to believe it is cosmetic. Binti's culture is like the real Himba which makes their hair one of the most important aspects of the way they look to the rest of society, and Okorafor has chosen to point out the importance often.

Here is an article which shows the Namibian Himba and their hairstyles.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/art...


message 31: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Laurie wrote: "I think Binti's hair is an incredibly important cultural thing since she is Himba. The Himba people in modern Namibia wear their hair in elaborate styles which indicate what stage of life they are ..."

This is really fascinating, Laurie. I was constantly trying to visualize what Binti’s hair looked like while reading the book. The elaborate designs and cultural significance of it is quite unique. Such a long tradition too that may be changing due to western mores. Thanks so much for sending this. The Daily Mail venturing into the National Geographic territory. Interesting.


message 32: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Carol, how’s your experience been with Akita Witch? Is it much the same as this book? How did you come by leading a discussion in this genre? Curious minds interested.

I’m trying to broaden my horizons and open myself up to more books like this and hoped traveling to Oomza Uni with Binti would help. As testament to my 3 star rating, I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite sure I’ll ever be there. That being said, Kindred by Octavia Butler left me absolutely breathless! I can’t think of that book without recalling how it moved me and I how i felt when I finished it.

I loved the writing in Binti and the ability of Okorafor to weave this story of this strong Himba girl to travel to a far off land or planet to the dismay of her people. But, like you, the non-human elements here just wasn’t for me. And I had a hard time just visualizing much of what was going on here. Like, I still don’t have a full grasp of ‘treeing’ after running across it on many occasions. Then there were Otjize, Astrolabe, Edan, Okuoko and some other terms that stumped me and it disrupted my reading flow for periods of time.

I’m still interested though in finding out the conclusion to all this in the final book of the series. Despite my frustration with some of the book, there’s still much to like here. Just the fact that there’s this diverse culture, this darker hue people traversing space is beautiful and certainly uncommon historically in Science Fiction.


message 33: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments Columbus wrote: "That being said, Kindred by Octavia Butler left me absolutely breathless! I can’t think of that book without recalling how it moved me and I how i felt when I finished it. ..."

I agree, Kindred was an amazing story, especially if you consider the time frame in which it was written (1970s).


message 34: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Columbus wrote: "Carol, how’s your experience been with Akita Witch? Is it much the same as this book? How did you come by leading a discussion in this genre? Curious minds interested.

I’m trying to broaden my hor..."


Akata Witch is excellent - all of the good things you mentioned, but without the non-human elements which you aptly describe. It is very different from Binti, in terms of the commonalities of the human experience - not belonging, e.g., being an outsider, popularity, bullying. Even with some of the characters having supernatural powers (magic), the personalities and dilemmas are familiar and understandable, and the author layers her culture atop of those universal experiences to make the story her own and not derivative of Harry Potter or anyone else's work.

I nominated it in a group where running the discussion if it wins is table stakes for nominating. Then it won. *gulp*

I share all of your comments and points above. Kindred is a novel I have pushed on as many friends as I can find to push it on. I still think about it. And I also never could see what Binti was seeing through her eyes. It was as if I was blindfolded for the whole book. I'm delighted that others are enjoying it, though. I'm just lacking the scifi/speculative fiction gene, I suppose. (Also the circus gene, btw, but that's not relevant here.)


message 35: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2874 comments Mod
Laurie wrote: "I think Binti's hair is an incredibly important cultural thing since she is Himba. The Himba people in modern Namibia wear their hair in elaborate styles which indicate what stage of life they are ..."

Thank you for sharing this.
One of the pics is just how I had visualized Binti's hair.


message 36: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2874 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Carol, how’s your experience been with Akita Witch? Is it much the same as this book? How did you come by leading a discussion in this genre? Curious minds interested.

I’m trying ..."


I would say that Kindred is probably the book that I have recommended the most to others who ask me for a good book recommendation. And I have always got great feedback from those that did read it - I usually do not tell them that it is speculative fiction but mention that it does have time travel.

Well, I now know not to recommend books with non-human characters to Columbus and Carol. :)

But enjoying Kindred (Akata Witch) shows that most genres usually have a wide scope of different storylines and it is usually means finding the right book for someone to find an enjoyable book in a genre they have not tried/or enjoyed before.


message 37: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Beverly wrote: "Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Carol, how’s your experience been with Akita Witch? Is it much the same as this book? How did you come by leading a discussion in this genre? Curious minds interested..."

Well, I’m always open to recommendations from you, Beverly, in any genre. You never steer me wrong.

I’m also still quite glad I read Binti and that we are reading it as a group. If it had been 500 pages, perhaps I’d be somewhat less glad, but no need to go there. :). Okorafor is an author I want to support and whose books I want/ed to be familiar with.


message 38: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Beverly wrote: "Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Carol, how’s your experience been with Akita Witch? Is it much the same as this book? How did you come by leading a discussion in this genre? Curious ..."

I agree, Carol. With all that I stated previously about the book, I’m still eagerly looking forward to reading the final book in the series. I enjoyed “Home” the 2nd book over the first book and hopefully The Night Masquerade more than the 2nd one. 🤞🏽


message 39: by Laurie (new)

Laurie @Columbus, I find it interesting that you liked Home better than the first book. I finished Home this morning and I was just thinking that I didn't like it quite as much. But the ending, as in the first book, has left me eager to read the next book.


message 40: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 590 comments Janice (JG) wrote: "Columbus wrote: "That being said, Kindred by Octavia Butler left me absolutely breathless! I can’t think of that book without recalling how it moved me and I how i felt when I finished it. ..."

I ..."

I agree about Kindred. It blew my mind and opened me to a female, Black woman's syfy take on it.

I enjoyed Akita Witch series better.


message 41: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 590 comments Columbus wrote: "Carol wrote: "Beverly wrote: "Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Carol, how’s your experience been with Akita Witch? Is it much the same as this book? How did you come by leading a discussion in this g..."

Yes it is.


message 42: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Binti and Home are now being discussed

From the author:

Treeing I used to be semi-pro tennis player. There was a term we had: When you were treeing, you were playing out of your mind. Like you can't do anything wrong, and you feel it. So the idea of treeing, the idea of tapping into something mysterious, played into Binti as well.

@Laurie: I enjoyed Home better for several reasons. 1) fast-paced from the beginning. stuff jumped off right from the opening pages. it’s clear with this book you need to follow the books in order or you’ll be confused about the opening chaos. in fact, she uses treeing, otjize and edan on the very first page so if you’re without at least a working knowledge of these things you might close the book immediately. 2) the series is about many things but family is a familial theme. here we get her complicated relationship with her family upon her return. I got lost for a minute in the family dynamics. The skirting around some issues surrounding Binti’s departure and the awkward conversations at the family dinner. I thought it was fascinating. 3) I thought the writing here was better and i just became more engaged with the language and the the story. It wasn’t all the afrofuturism, which is ok if that’s what you like, but a simple story about family, tradition and how we treat each other.

Finally, I just thought it improved on the first book in all areas: writing action, story. Home hit me with a ton of bricks and didn’t let up.


message 43: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
I gave both Binti and Home 3 stars. However, Home would get 3.5 stars if that was an option for us. Considering this is speculative fiction, that rating is Huge!


message 44: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 590 comments Thank you for clarifying "treeing" since I just read the book without clearly knowing what she was referring to or saying actually.

I know one of them I gave a 2 stars, another one 3 stars, and the last one I believe I gave 2/3 stars. It is definitely about family.


message 45: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments I wish I'd known what treeing was when I read the book, lol. There wasn't any context to allow me to even guess. Ah well. You might have convinced me to put Home on hold, too.


message 46: by Erin (new)

Erin Glover (erinxglover) | 19 comments I have to take my copy back to the library. I was hoping to read more about the substance she put on her hair. I think it was ojitze. Laurie and Columbus discuss it above. It was interesting to me how the ojitze changed her captors. I was also fascinated by this idea that she became like her captors. Is that what you mean by treeing? What is that supposed to symbolize? And her gathering more ojitze on the new planet. What does that symbolize?

I noticed the obvious references to Binti being revered on her home planet and an outcast off her planet. To me, she was leaving Africa and going to white countries. But she ends up being a unifying force, a hero, on the planet where she is to go to school and blends with the other race. Mixed marriages? We're all the same? This story raised several deep cultural questions for me. Did others get that?


message 47: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I personally envisioned treeing as a kind of trance or deep meditation in which Binti used mathematical equations to get into the trance and stay there, which helped her deal with anxiety or fear.

I think the importance of ojitze is the connection to the land since it a mixture of a kind of clay with fat and herbs or something, I can't remember exactly. It is a very literal way of bringing some of home with her but since it doesn't last indefinitely, Binti had to make some new ojitze at university. She feels naked without it, so it has deep cultural meaning to Himba women.

I agree that Binti represents that Himba can and maybe should assimilate into the various cultures and beings of the universe. Her people don't leave Earth, but when she does she is accepted by the other students. It is a message that her people need to become open minded to change as Binti is. I wish we were told the reason that Himba don't leave the planet, but maybe that will come in a later book.


message 48: by Erin (new)

Erin Glover (erinxglover) | 19 comments The prejudice in the book jumped out at me. First, after Binti leaves Earth, everyone stares at her and she is treated differently due to her appearance. Then, it is assumed the beings who take over the ship are indiscriminately evil without just cause. We learn a piece of their culture has been stolen and is on display at the university. Only Binti is capable of bringing the two sides together for the return of the stolen item.

It seems to me the author is saying we make assumptions about how people will act based upon race without knowledge of the injustices inflicted upon them. The result of understanding another's culture and inflicted injustice is an assimilation with that culture. You can never un-know what you learned. You become closer to being one as humans and less separate as different races. That's my take away.


message 49: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1264 comments Mod
So the harmonizers can talk to the animals and aliens? I would think that the first thing the animals would say is "Hey, why don't you guys stop eating us?" But no, Binti goes on to describe many different delicious meats consumed...
I'm being facetious..
I used to enjoy Sci-FI tremendously as a youth. But now silly holes in stories like that sometimes leave me less than satisfied. I generally liked the Binti stories and the present day metaphors that she outlined. I just guess that my ability to suspend my disbelief has curdled with age.
Vegans, don't think you're off the hook. You'll get yours in book 3!


message 50: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3729 comments Mod
Nnedi Okorafor, PhD quote:

I’m fascinated by people who talk to me like I should feel ashamed or diminished for writing black African characters. They don’t realize that that’s why I started writing in the FIRST place.


« previous 1
back to top