Book cover
Nnedi Okorafor

This is a beautifully imagined, wholly original love letter to Lagos, Nigeria in the form of a science fiction alien invasion story. But not the kind of alien invasion you’re probably imagining. Lagoon asks more questions that it answer (in a good way!) and it is shot through with pride and hope for Okorafor’s Nigerian home-away-from-home.

What is that sweet taste I feel with my feet? It is patriotism, loyalty. Not to the country of Nigeria but to the city of Lagos. Finally. Maybe it will flow and spread like a flood of clean water. What a story that would be.

I think what I liked best is the heavy dose of Nigerian culture coursing through the book. Not only do we get glimpses of places, foods, names, and myths, but Okorafor sets loads of dialog in the Naijá language, also known as Nigerian Pidgin. This can be confusing for an english speaker, but you can sort of make a lot of it out given its similarity to English. And it is handled well, so it doesn’t interfere with understanding of the story at all. And it is a delight. (Pro tip: there’s a dictionary at the end of the book defining a few key words.)

And a hat tip to Okorafor for giving me this in-story mnemonic for remembering how to pronounce Lagos correctly: “…if there is one city that rhymes with ‘chaos,’ it is Lagos.”