The World We Make

by N.K. Jemisin is an inventive science fiction novel that transmutes the struggles of New York City--gentrification, a contentious mayoral election– into fantasy. In The World We Make, a follow-up to Jemisin’s first novel The City We Became, each of New York City’s boroughs has become personified by an avatar, a clever device that pays homage to the beautiful diversity of the city: Manny (Manhattan) is a well-off grad student, Brooklyn is a former rapper turned politician, Padmili (Queens) is a math prodigy, and Bronca (Bronx) is the director of an art gallery. Now, however, the city is threatened by the Woman in White, a representative of a nightmarish alien city R’Lyeh, who sows hatred and discontent and is protected by a band of racist thugs. Aislyn, Staten Island’s avatar, has fallen under her spell, and the rest of the boroughs must convince other cities around the world to join the battle against racist hate in order to save humanity. The World We Make is a clever, mythical allegory of all-too-real challenges.