Resonating with today's headlines, the author of the acclaimed Lament for the Fallen looks to a future at once tainted with despair but buoyed up by hope in his second, extraordinary novel - a must-read for fans of Lauren Beukes and Nnedi Okorafor as much as David Mitchell, Michael Faber and Emily St John Mandel.
Why do we tell stories? To hold on to what has been loved and lost, to create new myths, to explain and teach in ways that seep into memory.
Shakiso Collard leads the evacuation from Benghazi as jihadis overwhelm the refugee camp where she works. On arrival in Paris, she is betrayed by her boss, Oktar Samboa, and watches in despair as those she illegally helped escape are deported back to the warzones of Libya.
Elsewhere, Farinata Uberti – strongman CEO of Rosneft, the world’s largest energy company – arrives in London after triggering a violent insurrection in Tanzania to destroy a potential rival in the oil market. In the Sahara, an air convoy on its way to deliver billions of dollars of drugs and weapons to Ansar Dine jihadis crashes and is lost.
A year later, having spent months in hiding, Shakiso travels to West Africa. She is there to lead the relief effort that are hoping to stop the 200 million refugees fleeing war and environmental collapse heading for a fortified and fragmented Europe.
As the myths of these millions seeking new lives across the Mediterranean intrude into reality, Shakiso is drawn into the brutal clandestine fight against Rosneft’s domination of European energy supplies being conducted by the mysterious Simon Adaro. And, deep within the disorienting Harmattan storms of the desert, a group of jihadis have gone in search of the crashed convoy of planes - and a terror that could overwhelm them all.
“Uncannily in tune with the time it was written . . . at once dreamlike and harrowingly believable, this is not a comforting read. It is, however, a gripping and frightening one.”
“Proves that the best science fiction can be not only socially relevant and thought-provoking, but entertaining . . . a brilliantly reimagined near-future Africa . . . he interweaves ecological and political intrigue with Senegalese folk myths to tell the ultimately uplifting story of a continent sadly neglected in SF.”
Eric Brown, GUARDIAN
“A multi-layered narrative that builds momentum and depth and inexorably draws the reader in . . . there is a dignity to this book, a quiet power and charm that breathes life into its pages . . . this is a book of prophetic realism, determined optimism and magical storytelling that sets it apart.”
“Timely and intelligent . . . blends magic realism and action to poetic and thrilling ends . . . it's packed full of fun, danger, stolen moments and hypocrisy - much like the modern world.”
“As speculative fiction it is completely on the money . . . an important commentary on present-day headlines and a prescient warning of what we can expect if our ways do not change . . . highly readable . . . Chait is a very good writer, juggling several emotionally powerful concepts with the timeless magic of aural storytelling.”