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Who Fears Death? (Paperback)
June 2010 Indie Next List
“Okorafor's latest novel, her first for adults, is a sharp, evocative story of a woman born of rape into a post-apocalyptic African landscape. Okorafor brings her considerable talent for ambiguous characterizations and grappling with difficult questions of morality and power in an unjust world. Her prose is musical and emotionally raw, and Okorafor's imagery brings the novel's rich magic and religion into vivid relief. Onyesonwu is a protagonist whose clear voice and brutally memorable story will stay with you long after you've finished.”
— Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own Feminist Bookstore, Madison, WI
An award-winning literary author enters the world of magical realism with her World Fantasy Award-winning novel of a remarkable woman in post-apocalyptic Africa.
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different--special--she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.
It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu--a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.
Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.
About the Author
Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She has been the winner of many awards for her short stories and young adult books, and won a World Fantasy Award for Who Fears Death. Nnedi's books are inspired by her Nigerian heritage and her many trips to Africa. She lives in Chicago with her daughter Anyaugo and family. She can be contacted via her website, www.nnedi.com, or on Twitter at twitter.com/nnedi.
For anyone wanting to try a steam punk or for steam-punk aficionados this book is ideal. Set in two distinct steam-punk worlds that have turned 19th Century European life on its head: the world of the Clankers, advanced and powerful steam-powered machines in Austral-Hungary, and that of the Beasties, genetically fabricated Darwinian creatures in Britain. The story follows Daryn, a girl disguised as a boy to enter the British Air Service so she can fly. It also follows Alek, the prince of Austral-Hungary who must flee his royal after his parents are assassinated. From two separate opposing worlds, Alek and Daryn are thrown together by extreme circumstances aboard the mighty airship, the giant hydrogen-breathing modified whale of the air the Leviathan. A roller-coaster of action and intrigue, this book is also an incredibly well thought out politically and historically.