“A fearless novel that probes ideas of surveillance, misogyny and class. . . . Tsamaase brilliantly tackles ideas of motherhood and autonomy.” —New York Times Book Review
This genre-bending Afrofuturist horror novel blends The Handmaid’s Tale and The School for Good Mothers with Get Out in an adrenaline-packed, cyberpunk body-hopping ghost story exploring motherhood, memory, and a woman’s right to her own body.
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“This propulsive and brilliant page-turner is a searing indictment of the world in which we live, and I’m so glad it exists. Move aside Philip K. Dick and George Orwell—Tsamaase is the new visionary of our time.” —Marisa Crane, author of I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself
Nelah seems to have it all: fame, wealth, and a long-awaited daughter growing in a government lab. But, trapped in a loveless marriage to a policeman who uses a microchip to monitor her every move, Nelah’s perfect life is precarious. After a drug-fueled evening culminates in an eerie car accident, Nelah commits a desperate crime and buries the body, daring to hope that she can keep one last secret.
The truth claws its way into Nelah’s life from the grave.
As the ghost of her victim viciously hunts down the people Nelah holds dear, she is thrust into a race against the clock: in order to save any of her remaining loved ones, Nelah must unravel the political conspiracy her victim was on the verge of exposing—or risk losing everyone.
Set in a cruel futuristic surveillance state where bodies are a government-issued resource, this harrowing story is a twisty, nail-biting commentary on power, monstrosity, and bodily autonomy. In sickeningly evocative prose, Womb City interrogates how patriarchy pits women against each other as unwitting collaborators in their own oppression. In this devastatingly timely debut novel, acclaimed short fiction writer Tlotlo Tsamaase brings a searing intelligence and Botswana’s cultural sensibility to the question: just how far must a woman go to bring the whole system crashing down?
“A fierce, furious, and fearless debut that has its finger on the pulse—no, the gushing wound—of our world’s most invasive cruelties.” —Daniel Kraus, New York Timesbestselling co-author of The Shape of Water
“Masterful . . . Tsamaase has created a disturbing techno dystopia in a future Botswana that terrifies with its echoes of our own increasingly authoritarian cyber-policed world. This beautifully written work haunts and upends expectations with its resurrected ghosts and gods and ancestors of Motswana cosmology. What an accomplished debut!” —T. L. Huchu, Caine Prize finalist and author of The Library of the Dead
“This Afrofuturist novel’s twisty plot has a lot to say about inequality — and complicity.” —Los Angeles Times
After taking part in just about every goodreads giveaway possible, I finally got approved for the audio from NetGalley. I love the cover, and I really wanted to dig into this one.
Unfortunately, this may have arrived to me at just the wrong time or something, or perhaps not. It just didn’t grip me, didn’t work.
I sadly found the main character to be incredibly unlikable. So even with her living in and through trauma, there isn’t necessarily enough for me to grab onto to care. For me, adultery just turns me off to pretty much anything you could possibly say, so although it’s about her having control over something, any little thing, it just doesn’t matter to me. It’s wrong. Doesn’t matter if I understand the angle.
With that being said, it left the story feeling like it was really missing something, and in that sense, it read as sadly boring, and even confusing at some points. I think the confusion was meant to be, in part, showing the detachment from the main character, but it didn’t exactly work for me. Which is really sad, because the snippets of background world you get are really interesting. You’re dropped into this sort of Afro-futuristic Botswana where technology has reached all new heights—people can live longer, transfer consciousness into other bodies, and augment themselves—but sadly these heights are still being used to further invade women’s space. And in this case, sadly their literal minds and memories, and nothing is safe.