So in a stroke of most excellent luck, I connected with Naiya of The Canary Review, who suggested that we read the same book at the same time and talk about it. You know, like a conversation and a way to connect with someone instead of reading as a solitary pursuit. Genius. We decided on Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch, and you can actually follow our thinking and planning on this blog post because I know you are fangirling or fanboying us.
I’ve read two books by Okorafor before, and I’ve been meaning to read more, because even more than I like her, I just find her stories really interesting, and I think she deserves a wider readership not just because she is a good writer but because you don’t find many voices of color in YA SFF, and you find even fewer who are lucky enough to have covers that reflect that. Also, I had heard great things about her, so I picked up Who Fears Death at a bookstore sale this one time and read it, and then this semester in my SFF class we read The Shadow Speaker. First, she reminds me of Helen Oyeyemi, whose first book, The Icarus Girl, is one of my favorites ever, and whose other books are highly fascinating, too. I love the idea of using West African (specifically Nigerian for these two) mythology because Yoruban gods and traditions are also very present in the Western Hemisphere, especially Brazil and Cuba (you know these things as candomblé or santeria), and I adored Brazil when I went there and identified a lot with a lot of things, and now I’m digressing, so I’ll stop.
Anyway, so we decided that it was probably appropriate to read Akata Witch, and I am excited to be starting it (I’m writing this entry ahead of time, so I will be a few chapters in when you read this) and to have someone to talk about it with. I’m interested to pick the book apart and discuss with Naiya whether it’s fantasy or magic realism and what the difference between the two are. I love the idea of an albino African because it’s an interesting character attribute that I bet will inform protagonist Sunny’s identity in myriad ways. I like the idea of reading about an American who has to live in Africa, especially since stories like this (I really loved No Condition Is Permanent when I was younger and think you should check it out) often focus on being a white person in a nonwhite person’s land, and you don’t often read narratives, fiction or nonfiction, about people of color who travel. As a person of color who loves to travel and can no longer afford it, I look forward to my literary trip.
Also, let’s not forget that this is just YA fantasy, so it looks like there is crimefighting and magic school, and that’s sure to be awesomesauce. I can already tell there is a lot to talk about in here.
Naiya and I will be checking in with each other and co-blogging our adventures, so stay tuned on both of our blogs (and read her introductory post here). Also, yes, I have linked you to a million things, because not only should you read along with us and join in on the conversation, but you should also read all of the other things I mentioned.