Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to.
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Today’s pick is near-future dystopian science fiction that the author links directly to 2020s United States.
Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi
In the 2050s, after the U.S. government really crapped the bed when it came to its pandemic response, other countries closed their borders to folks from the U.S. This made the folks in the U.S. upset because freedom or whatever so the government teams up with big private companies to really get a move on with a space colony they refer to as The Colony.
All of the wealthy in the U.S., mostly white people, go off to space and leave everyone else behind to deal with poisonous air and other awful environmental catastrophes. Of course, those who went to The Colony can’t just leave people alone so the people still in the U.S. on Earth are being over-policed by robots. Also, The Colony is still just absolutely gutting the resources that are still left, such as literally tearing down houses and taking the bricks among other things.
The folks still in the U.S., mostly Black and Brown, have been doing the best they can with what they have been left. What is going on in the book is a direct reflection of what goes on in Black and Brown neighborhoods in reality when these neighborhoods are victims of gentrification. After turning everything to garbage and flying off to space where the next couple of generations get kinda cyborged out, people start coming back to Earth from the Colony. They wait for the Black and Brown people in the houses on Earth to get foreclosed on or evicted and then the Colonizers move back. With wealthy folks coming back, there are now domes built so that there can be clean air for them, etc.
This novel is told through many interwoven vignettes of folks both from the Colony who are manifest-destiny-ing their way back to the United States and folks who were left behind and the generations after them. Yes, it is sci-fi but I think what really grabbed me about this book is that it felt so close. So within reach, not that this world is something I would want to grab. It just feels so possible and that made it both a mesmerizing and terrifying read.
Content warnings for rape, violence, police violence, and racism.
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That’s it for now, book-lovers!
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