Dare to Discuss Time: Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon
Here gather some reviewers and/or writers — AND YOU IF YOU’D LIKE TO JOIN IN — to discuss a book. We do it every couple of months, so pay attention if you like reading things. Since you’re here, I think you do.
This time, we’re talking about Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon (not an affiliate link, if it matters to you) in the comments section below. I’m going to talk about it here a little bit first, and my fellow participants have written their own thoughts/reviews on it at Sci-Fi and Scary, The Scary Reviews, Michael Patrick Hicks dot com, and Dave’s (David Dubrow’s) Blog.
I suggested we read it, and from what I’ve heard they mostly sort of enjoyed it but saw some pretty serious problems with it, giving it two or three stars out of five.
So I might not get to recommend new fiction for us to talk about for a while. We’ll see how forgiving they are.
Don’t take the previous two sentences too seriously 🙂
Nnedi Okorafor has a few words to say about Lagoon as well, on her Wahala Zone Blog. They’re worth reading. “I admit (and don’t apologize for) the fact that my flavor of scifi is evenly Naijamerican (note: “Naija” is slang for Nigeria or Nigerian.),” she writes.
If you’re personally acquainted with the cultural context her writing speaks for/to/of/with, or even have enjoyed reading some Afrofuturism in the past (that’s my case), you may find Okorafor’s work more easily accessible than if your experience is otherwise.
On the other hand, to hell with accessibility. Variety is the spice of life and all that.
My impressions of the book:
Some folk have been bugged by the extensive use of dialog in Pidgin English. I wasn’t, but then I’ve read through A Clockwork Orange so…
…the Pidgin didn’t bother me for reasons you might guess. Others found it distracting. Personal taste.
I enjoyed reading Lagoon. I wanted to love it as much as I loved reading Binti and Akata Witch and a few of Okorafor’s short stories I’ve stumbled across. But I couldn’t quite.
It felt, to me, like the ideas of two or even three books stuffed into the skin of a single book. If it were a sausage, I’d say the richness overwhelmed the flavor. But I’m glad I ate it, and the experience was positive and memorable, even if I had to take a break in the middle and let everything settle for a while. Which I did. I put Lagoon down about 2/3 through and read a short story anthology, then came back to finish it.
Nnedi seems to have her plate full of writing for the forseeable future so I’m not holding my breath for a return to Lagoon. But if a sequel showed up, I’d love to see what she does with that crammed-full-of-interesting-things world.