Our 2021 Big Read selection is Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Complete Trilogy. The collection includes a trio of novellas—Binti (2015), Binti: Home (2017), and Binti: The Night Masquerade (2018)—as well as a new short story. Binti won the Hugo, Nebula, and Nommo Awards for best science fiction novella.
Nnedi Okorafor is a bestselling, Nigerian-American writer who has quickly gained a reputation as one of the foremost voices in contemporary science fiction. The Binti series introduces us to a unique brand of “Africanfuturism,” Okorafor’s term for the deep investment in “African culture, history, mythology, and point-of-view” that pervades her fiction. Set on earth and in space, the Binti trilogy tells the story of a young woman from Namibia who negotiates the stress of leaving home and heading off to college, confronting past tradition and future prospects as she struggles to find her place in an alien environment. Relying on her love of mathematics and also newfound friendships, Binti must negotiate prejudice, self-doubt, and trauma as the narrative builds to high-stakes conflicts between groups on Earth and beyond.
Okorafor’s stories have been praised by critics. Neil Gaiman, for instance, writes, “Nnedi Okorafor writes glorious futures….Her worlds open your mind to new things, always rooted in the red clay of reality. Prepare to fall in love with Binti.”
Image credit: Shlomo Shalev (@shlomo99), “The Milky Way, Tofino, Canada,” Unsplash (19 June 2018)