Nnedi Okorafor’s LAGOON

…is a hard book to get out of my head. I will have a passage about it in an upcoming column. But it’s doing so many things, and so many of them well, that I keep coming back to it: it is a good book to think with.

Especially when in comes to a sense of place. Maybe I’m just startled to hit another novel that doesn’t take place in a sanitised or Americanised present/future – which is part of what I like about Stross’s near-future SF and the Laundry novels, and Karen Healey’s When We Wake and While We Run, come to think of it, although England and Scotland and Australia certainly get more play in Anglophone SF than Nigeria does. (And also part of what I liked about Samit Basu’s Turbulence, although the superhero genre really isn’t my thing.)

American SF is a wide field in itself, but I sometimes think that it can be limited by shared sensibilities and reading protocols, by the conversation with how things have been done before. This is changing slightly as ever more novels are produced, and as the Young Adult contribution to science fiction is taking a larger place in the conversation, but I still feel that there is a cultural koine there that elides a universe of experiences.

The American dominance of Anglophone literature may be unavoidable by numbers alone, but it does rather contribute to a sort of colonisation of the imagination. Lagoon sets its face against this state of affairs, with its unapologetic focus on Lagos, on Nigeria and Nigerian characters – and the odd Ghanaian. And it is a really interesting alien invasion story. And it has layers of things going on. I would love to see a smarter critic than me take this on and show me more of the connections between the things-going-on than I see myself.

Anyway. Interesting book.

2 thoughts on “Nnedi Okorafor’s LAGOON

  1. I very much want to read Lagoon. Not only because I’ve adored everything I’ve read so far by Nnedi Okorafor, but for similar reasons to what you bring up here. It’s incredibly refreshing to read speculative fiction that takes place somewhere other than American or the UK. Sometimes it feels like those countries are the only two that matter in fiction because there are so few that take place elsewhere. Or rather, so few that I have access to. It’s a huge world out there, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it to look at the fiction we produce.

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