Seattle Author Nisi Shawl Reimagines a Colonial Tragedy as a Steampunk African Kingdom

‘Everfair’ is a novel profoundly interested in justice.

You’re either the kind of reader who digs books with maps and family trees in the first few pages, or you’re not. Some readers—and this is where my loyalties lie—tend to barrel through books all sharklike, never turning back or stopping. Others prefer to take their time; these are the people who love the luxury of flipping back and forth, consulting the character lists at the front of the book and thumbing over to the glossary in the back as needed.

Sci-fi author and Seattle Times book critic Nisi Shawl’s first novel, Everfair, has a historical map of its titular fictional African nation in the front, alongside a list of “Some Notable Characters.” Shawl practically insists that readers take their time with the story of Everfair. This is a novel that turned me, at least temporarily, into one of those slow and circuitous readers; not only did I keep a thumb permanently parked in the character list for easy reference, but I also found myself reading the book phone in hand, Googling historical context and researching Shawl’s influences on multiple occasions per chapter.

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

arts@seattleweekly.com

More in Arts & Culture

A scene from the 2017 Seattle Pride Parade. Photo by Bobby Arispe Jr./Flickr
Seattle Pride Pick List

Maximize your Pride Weekend experience with these standout celebrations and activities.

Hulking out at the ACE Comic Con in Glendale, Ariz. Photo courtesy of ACE Comic Con
The Pop-Up Disruptor Con

ACE Comic Con heads to Seattle this week with a stripped down, star-focused model. Will it work?

Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan is still a teen, making ‘Lush’ an even more ridiculous indie rock achievement. Photo courtesy Ground Control Touring
Pick List: Snail Mail, Sounders Pride, Peach Kelli Pop

The week’s best entertainment options.

Dino-Might

While peppier than its predecessor, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still feels very calculated.

Photo by Brett Curtiss/Flickr
Memories of Prides Past

We caught up with some notable locals to reminisce about their favorite moments from the festivities.

Illustration by Taylor Dow
Indignation and Compassion

Cancer season, and summer, begin with choppy waters.

Putting in the Werk

While best known for underground dance music, Kremwerk has quietly fostered Seattle’s alternative queer entertainment scene.

Take dad out to the ball game, take dad out with the crowd… Photo by Elise Lin/Flickr
Father’s Day Pick List

Make the most of a day with the ol’ man with these dad-centric activities.

Speedy Ortiz with the candlestick in the flowery room. Photo courtesy Ground Control Touring
Pick List: Speedy Ortiz, Men in Blazers, Fremont Fair

The week’s best entertainment options.

Most Read