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Tochi Onyebuchi has a kindness and curiosity that imbues his characters with respect and believable complications.
I met Tochi on a panel right before the pandemic hit and he was so delightful and engaging that I took a copy of his book home with me. Post #MeToo, a depressingly predictable number of male writers have suddenly turned away from tough guy narrators to writing women protagonist who are feisty and kick ass and love to give blow jobs. Tochi isn’t like that. He has a kindness and curiosity that imbues his characters with respect and believable complications. His young women are trying to find a place in the world that seeks to stifle them. That they are able to find ways through the many obstacles thrown in their paths speaks to Tochi’s sensitivities and I dare say his own family’s immigrant experience.
Ella has a Thing. She sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse. A neighbor's son murdered in a drive-by shooting. Things that haven't happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability to wreck cities in her hands.
Rooted in the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is as much an intimate family story as a global dystopian narrative. It burns fearlessly toward revolution and has quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.
Ella and Kev are both shockingly human and immeasurably powerful. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by racism. Their futures might alter the world.
|Publication date:||21st January 2020|
|Collections:||35 LGBTQIA+ books to read this Pride Month and every month,|
Riot Baby, Onyebuchi's first novel for adults, is as much the story of Ella and her brother, Kevin, as it is the story of black pain in America, of the extent and lineage of police brutality, racism and injustice in this country, written in prose as searing and precise as hot diamonds.--The New York Times
Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether.--Marlon James