N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became Defines Ambitious

When I hear the word “ambitious” in relation to a work of art, I immediately think of failure. A “you tried it” meme waiting to be posted. So when one of the early blurbs about N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became called it “ambitious” I thought they must not understand one of the greatest fantasy writers of our age, if they think she can’t write whatever she wants.

But they understood her alright. Ambitious doesn’t even cover it. I just needed to change my definition of what could and couldn’t be done. The City We Became is beyond ambitious, but it’s anything but failure. 

“A city is never alone, not really—and this city seems less solitary than most. More like a family: many parts, frequently squabbling… but in the end, against enemies, they come together and protect one another. They must, or die.”

 A love letter to New York City and more importantly, New Yorkers, the novel has a vast world building that starts off from page one. Cities become sentient. Cities give birth to human avatars who can feel their pain, grow large within them and battle for their blocks, their lights, their roadways, their souls. 

The avatars of New York City awaken at different times and places, each representing a borough, and all in response to the imminent alien threat that tries to topple cities who become too much. 

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.


The novel is rife with myth and grit and honesty and community. The characters vary widely and yet feel like home-grown goodness. They absolutely feel like New York. Even as an outsider, someone who can count the number of times I’ve been in New York on two hands, the fantasy is in the affinity. If you love New York, even an idealized, outside picture of it, you’ll root for it. 

And it doesn’t stop there. It’s not the Sesame Street of fantasy novels, with quirky characters from different blocks and in different domiciles coming together on parade day. It’s an epic treatise on diversity, bigotry, racism, and gentrification in a genre that is plagued with by them. 

The City We Became is a genius novel from a truly genius author.     You cannot pass it by. 

Today is the perfect day to purchase The City We Became as we are still in the midst of the publishing blackout known as #BlackPublishingPower and #BlackOutBestsellerList. If you are looking to further your impact in the Black publishing space, consider buying one from one of the Black-owned bookstores in this thread. 



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