Book Club: The Book of Phoenix.
Jon Moy is a freelance writer based in Detroit. He’s written about a lot of things, but mostly about fashion. He’s just happy to be here. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @moybien1212.
Did your school system ever have one of those promotions where like, if you read x amount of books at the public library, the local pizza spot or movie theater or in my case, the Blockbuster Video and Burger King would give you free movie rentals or a Whopper Jr.? My town did and I fucking loved that program because it was tailor made for a nerdy ass kid like me. I also was within walking distance of the library. Which meant, Whopper Jr.s and for some reason one summer, A LOT of Steven Seagal movies. The Blockbuster had a whole wall of Steven Seagal movies, it was wild. The only one I really remember was where he was like a cook on a Navy ship that got taken over by terrorists. So like Die Hard, but on a boat. Only bad thing about spending a summer reading books, eating free Whopper Jrs. and watching middling action movies is you get chubby as hell. The next summer, my dad introduced me to ‘jogging’ for fun and fitness. Anyways, if I had come across this book by Nnedi Okorafor during that summer I would’ve probably not eaten as many burgers because I would’ve re-read this one a bunch.
The Book of Phoenix is a great book that melds science fiction, magical realism, and mythic narratives into a brisk, poetic origin story. Set in a future world dominated by corporations and governments that have harnessed technology to genetically manipulate humans giving them powerful and sometimes bizarre powers, the novel populates a still recognizable future with enough detail and technological innovation to successfully world build in a relatively quick read.
The most recognizable features of Okorafor’s future world are the control and violence inflicted upon black bodies by increasingly technocratic corporatized governments. The response to oppression engendered in the novel’s titular character is as timely a metaphor now as it was when The Book of Phoenix debuted in 2015.