dehner: new worlds

World Literature Rec #1

Last Sunday, I posted about my project to read a book from every country in the world. Today, I'm going to post my first rec. Writing about an African fantasy novel with an ass-kicking female protagonist is not in any way an attempt to distract myself from Rick Santorum's disturbing victory in my state, I swear...

Akata Witch, Uploaded with Snapbucket

Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Country: Nigeria
Review: I chose to write about Akata Witch first because it epitomizes the reasons I began this project. Written by an author who spent her childhood shuttling between the United States and Nigeria, it tells the story of an albino Nigerian girl who discovers she has magical powers. Just from that sentence, you can probably guess the broad outlines of the plot: Sunny, the main character, is conflicted about her abilities but seems to have a special destiny in the magical world. There's some kind of ultimate evil to fight, and of course, she has to keep her newfound existence secret from her Muggle regular family and friends. The resemblances to Harry Potter are pretty obvious. Yet, reading such a familiar plot makes the cultural differences more clear. Nigeria, not Europe or America, is the lens through which the rest of the world is viewed. West Africa has a vibrant non-magical culture and the oldest, most interesting magical culture in the world. African folklore is the inspiration for Sunny's magical education, and my hunger to read more about this unfamiliar, imaginative setting propelled me through the book. Without being too heavy-handed, the story also explores sexism and Eurocentrism in thoughtful ways.

Bottom line: this book was a lucky find at the Harvard University bookstore. A fantasy novel with thoughtful social commentary and an African, female protagonist is hard to come by. Yet, Akata Witch's best selling points have nothing to do with the sex or race of the protagonist. The truth is, this is a good book. Period. I know I'm not the only reader crossing my fingers for a sequel.
I hope you like it! It looks like the author has written a few other YA fantasy novels, plus a new one for adults. I will definitely check them out.
Hey, have you seen the comm 50books_poc? This would be a great rec for it AND you might find books there to read!

And what a great rec this is. *beams at you*