Thoughts: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor


Lagoon is my second book by Nnedi Okorafor and one I chose for Sci-Fi Month. I didn’t manage to post this short review last month, but having really gotten into science-fiction and fantasy this year I feel that every month should be sci-fi month 🙂

Lagoon is the extremely imaginative story of a first contact, where an unidentified object crashes into the ocean in Lagos, Nigeria. Three people are at Bar Beach when the crash occurs and become embroiled in saving Lagos: Adaora is a marine biologist, Anthony is a rapper from Ghana and Abu a soldier. The three are asked for help by the alien ambassador Ayodele. Of course, word gets out that aliens are about and chaos breaks out in Lagos. The aliens calling themselves – and claiming to seek change, inspire everything from war and scamming to LGBTIQ adoration (Ayodele can shift genders amongst other things).

Lagoon has everything: a superhero story, magic, folklore, Nigerian mythology, eco-warriors and Okorafor has a lot of fun imagining fantastical creatures and giving many a voice, too.  The story is chaotic and teeming with ideas and concepts all happening at the same time. There is a wonderful multiplicity of narrative voices. It might take a few chapters to get used to, but this really works in the book’s favor, creating complexity and chaos, while simultaneously connecting different strands, different voices of the city.

While this may seem a fun romp and riff off District 9 (it is! and seeks to break the film’s stereotypical representation of Nigerian villains), Lagoon is rife with weighty issues that pack a punch. Okorafor explores everything from racism and domestic violence to the treatment of the LGBTIQ community. I wish there had been a chance to get to know many of the characters in more depth, as it is the female main characters are wonderfully complex and the other characters remain walking ideas and aspects of Lagos life. But Adaora and Ayodele are amazing characters, I’d love to meet them in other works. As usual, I am left wanting more so I’m glad Okorafor is such a prolific writer. My advice is to take a deep breath and jump, and you’ll love Lagoon!

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

10 thoughts on “Thoughts: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

  1. Wonderful review, Bina! Ayodele sounds like a wonderful character! Makes me think of Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ in which the characters in one of the planets can change their gender. I need to read Nnedi Okorafor now! Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful new writer, Bina!

    1. Thanks, Vishy! Ayodele is a wonderful character, indeed 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy Okorafor’s writing, she has written many wonderful works! I need to read more LeGuin, I was recommended a book series by her recently, I think I will put her on my 2016 list!

  2. Wow, I had forgotten about the Nigerian villains in District 9! That movie. Gosh. I should go back and rewatch it — the first hour or so was so tense I almost couldn’t take it, and then it got a bit, I dunno. The second half of it wasn’t nearly as compelling to me as the first half. BUT Lagoon sounds great and it’s on my list for next year!

    1. Yes, so frustrating because I liked the film on many levels. It managed to do so much right in terms of Othering, but not w/ regards to Nigerians. Can definitely understand Okorafor wanting to write something to adress this.Hope you’ll enjoy Lagoon 🙂

  3. It sounds great… I want to put it on my TBR list. For some reason the atmosphere at the beginning of the book (the few pages you can read at Amazon 😉 ) reminded me of Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Chabon. Maybe because Chabon’s novel starts in an icy area and this in the water…

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