GSWS Feminist Book Club - July 2023

July 26, 2023

GSWS Feminist Book Club's Ju;y Book:


Nnedi Okorafor

DAW Books (2021)

Our July pick for book club was Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor. Okorafor coined the term “Africanfuturism,” which she defines as a sub-genre of science fiction, and “specifically and more directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black Diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West.” She is a professor of creative writing in Chicago, born to two Nigerian immigrant parents. She is a prolific writer, and Noor is her most recent novel. 

All this to say that she is clearly a fierce intellect, and this comes through in Noor, and in her main character AO, a woman who was born with many malformations, then is in a catastrophic car accident at age 14, and who subsequently has chosen to have cybernetic body parts from mega-corporation Ultimate Corp. 

As we sat down to discuss this book we mostly agreed: There are so many good ideas in Noor. We liked her world-building around the effects of climate change, and the new, greener energy. It’s dominated by Western corporations, with its attendant displacement of traditional Fulani herders (now dubbed “terrorists” by the state) and corporate colonization. The perpetual sandstorm (Red Eye) that covers northern Nigeria takes centre stage, and the tech that she presents is cool. Also there are themes of prejudice, as AO is attacked for her cybernetic implants, seen as an “abomination.” 

Yet, despite all of these wonderful bits, we all felt the book was bland. For all the good ideas, each one was quite obvious and didn’t require us to think deeply or interpret the themes. We craved more depth and fewer themes. Plot points arose then fell away never to return, and we puzzled over some of them. Also, the reading level seemed to tend towards YA, not a problem, but this isn’t a YA book, and the MCs were almost 30. 

We can’t heartily recommend this book for everyone, but if you enjoy a lighter read with some interesting ideas and future tech, it might be worth a try!