Who Fears Death – Nnedi Okorafor

My reading of Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death has happily co-incided with the news that HBO is turning it into a series, and George R. R. Martin will be one of the executive producers. I look forward to seeing how HBO handles the adaption, and I'm sure having Martin as one of the people on deck will be great for the series.

Who Fears Death was written in 2010 and has won a truckload of awards, including the Nebula, and the World Fantasy award.

What I love most about Okorafor's writing is her superb blend of African culture and fantasy. I didn't love Who Fears Death, mainly, I think, because it's a freaking tough read. If you have any triggers, I would strongly suggest you stop here.

Onyesonwu is a child of rape – an horrific event revisited multiple times – and her name means 'who fears death?' We find Onyesonwu sitting in a prison cell, and she relates her life story – from her conception, through her 11th year rite (genital mutilation), her discovery of her mystical powers and her training in magic. Onyesonwu discover that some of her powers come from her biological father, who is keeping a magical eye on her – not for any good reason. There's plenty of confronting content. Onyesonwu's activation and exploration of her powers is done so well, and explores some deep questions.

The other thing that made me feel a bit funny about the book was that I listened to the audio – which was performed by Anne Flosnik. Don't get me wrong – Flosnik did a great job. But is a white British person the most appropriate pick to voice an African character? (John Lee voicing The White Tiger also made me feel squiffy).

Who Fears Death was 100% worth the journey, and deserves all the accolades it has received.

Have you read Who Fears Death? What did you think?


    • Hi Jackie, I don’t blame you for avoiding it, it’s a very tough read! I think it will make a good TV show, but I’m hoping Okorafor retains some level of creative control. The difficult stuff is very much a woman’s experience and it would be a shame for that to be commercialised and cheapened. The casting will be interesting – the characters are all African. How many white folks will they want to include?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.