The staggering contemporary fantasy that launches three-time Hugo Award-winner Jemisin’s new trilogy (following the Broken Earth series) leads readers into the beating heart of New York City for a stunning tale of a world out of balance. After hundreds of years of gestation, New York City is awakening to sentience, but “postpartum complications” threaten to destroy it. An alien, amorphous force, personified by the Woman in White, launches an attack on New York. Five people—one for each of the city’s five boroughs—are called to become avatars dedicated to protecting the city. If they can combine their powers, they’ll be able to awaken the avatar of the city as a whole and defeat the Woman in White, but first they’ll have to find each other. While the Woman in White works to undermine them, the five avatars, whose personalities delightfully mirror the character of their respective boroughs (the Bronx is “creative with an attitude,” Manhattan is “smart, charming, well-dressed, and cold enough to strangle you in an alley if we still had alleys”), learn the extent of their new powers. Jemisin’s earthy, vibrant New York is mirrored in her dynamic, multicultural cast. Blending the concept of the multiverse with New York City arcana, this novel works as both a wry adventure and an incisive look at a changing city. Readers will be thrilled. Agent: Lucienne Diver, the Knight Agency. (Mar.)
"It's a glorious fantasy, set in that most imaginary of cities, New York. It's inclusive in all the best ways, and manages to contain both Borges and Lovecraft in its fabric, but the unique voice and viewpoint are Jemisin's alone." Neil Gaiman
"N. K. Jemisin has captured the living, breathing soul of New York City in a way that only a writer of her skill can. The City We Became is a masterpiece that plays by no rules-beautiful, musical, joyfully weird, and as impossibly fantastical as it is deeply true." Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M
"The City We Became is a raucous delight, a joyride, a call-to-arms, a revolution with plenty of dancing. Eat your heart out, Lovecraft." Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
"Without a doubt, one of the most brilliant books I have ever had the honor of reading. An homage to New York City, packed with all its love and harshness, and so incredibly inventive that I felt my own imagination and the boundaries of what fantasy can be expand." S. A. Chakraborty, author of City of Brass
"The City We Became is a wonderfully inventive love letter to New York City that spans the multiverse. A big middle finger to Lovercraft with a lot of heart, creativity, smarts and humor. A timely and audacious allegorical tale for our times. This book is all these things and more." Rebecca Roanhorse, author of Trail of Lightning
"The greatest fantasy novelist currently writing turns her magnificent eye and ear and heart on New York City, and the result is every bit as full of love and rage and crazy compelling characters as my beloved city deserves." Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-Winning author of Blackfish City
"A love/hate song to and rallying cry for the author's home of New York... Fierce, poetic, uncompromising." Kirkus (starred review)
"Some of the most exciting and powerful fantasy writing of today... Jemisin's latest will attract ... even those who don't typically read genre fiction." Booklist (starred review)
"The most important speculative writer of her generation...She's that good." John Scalzi
People feel the moods of the cities they live in. Sometimes the cities themselves become living things, connected to all the lives within their limits. New York City has been born, but there is an otherworldly and dark force determined to destroy those connections and overlay itself. It will take the soul of the city to deal with the enemy. Of course it isn't so simple: New York is six souls: the five boroughs and the whole, and getting them to work together will be challenging. The pains of gentrification, bias, and hatred for anyone "other" is starting to take root, spread by the power that wants to take over. Can these distinct souls find a way to come together before the enemy takes hold, or will the city bend to a power literally out of this world? VERDICT Jemisin (The Broken Earth) writes a harsh love story to one of America's most famous places. As raw and vibrant as the city itself, the prose pushes the boundaries of fantasy and brings home what residents already know—their city is alive. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton
This extremely urban fantasy, a love/hate song to and rallying cry for the author's home of New York, expands her story "The City, Born Great" (from How Long 'Til Black Future Month, 2018).
When a great city reaches the point when it's ready to come to life, it chooses a human avatar, who guides the city through its birthing and contends with an extradimensional Enemy who seeks to strike at this vulnerable moment. Now, it is New York City's time to be born, but its avatar is too weakened by the battle to complete the process. So each of the individual boroughs instantiates its own avatar to continue the fight. Manhattan is a multiracial grad student new to the city with a secret violent past that he can no longer quite remember; Brooklyn is an African American rap star-turned-lawyer and city councilwoman; Queens is an Indian math whiz here on a visa; the Bronx is a tough Lenape woman who runs a nonprofit art center; and Staten Island is a frightened and insular Irish American woman who wants nothing to do with the other four. Can these boroughs successfully awaken and heal their primary avatar and repel the invading white tentacles of the Enemy? The novel is a bold calling out of the racial tensions dividing not only New York City, but the U.S. as a whole; it underscores that people of color are an integral part of the city's tapestry even if some white people prefer to treat them as interlopers. It's no accident that the only white avatar is the racist woman representing Staten Island, nor that the Enemy appears as a Woman in White who employs the forces of racism and gentrification in her invasion; her true self is openly inspired by the tropes of the xenophobic author H.P. Lovecraft. Although the story is a fantasy, many aspects of the plot draw on contemporary incidents. In the real world, white people don't need a nudge from an eldritch abomination to call down a violent police reaction on people of color innocently conducting their daily lives, and just as in the book, third parties are fraudulently transferring property deeds from African American homeowners in Brooklyn, and gentrification forces out the people who made the neighborhood attractive in the first place. In the face of these behaviors, whataboutism, #BothSides, and #NotAllWhitePeople are feeble arguments.
Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.