Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Kabu Kabu – unregistered, illegal Nigerian taxis – generally get you where you need to go, but Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu Kabu takes the reader to exciting, fantastic, magical, occasionally dangerous, and always imaginative locations. This debut short story collection by award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor includes notable previously-published short work, a new novella co-written with New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster, and a brief forward by Whoopi Goldberg.
Thoughts: I’ve talked before about how books of short stories rarely get rated very highly with me, because they often vary in quality and interest, and switching stories often throws me out of my reading groove. I had previously only listed Elizabeth Bear’s Shoggoths in Bloom as a 5-star short story collection. Well, Kabu Kabu has joined those exclusive ranks.
Nnedi Okorafor’s storytelling is constantly engaging, beautiful and evocative, and she’s one of those rare writers who can make you feel like you’re right there in the story without bogging you down in too much detail. Though each of the stories is distinct and a standalone, many relate to other works of hers, and I think nearly all of them have some connection, however small, to each other. She tells stories of magic and death and hope and oil and the past and future all rolled into one wondrous collection.
Kabu Kabu gives you insight into a culture and place that’s frequently overlooked in most fiction in general, let alone genre fiction. It’s far from a primer on Nigeria and the people who live there and have their roots there, but the viewpoint provides gives glimpses into things I can’t deny I am woefully ignorant of. And because of this book (and in part because of Who Fears Death, but mostly Kabu Kabu and the variety of stories it tells), I want to get rid of some of that ignorance. I wanted to learn more, my curiosity piqued, and I started that first step to understanding more of my current world so that I can better understand the speculative fiction that Okorafor writes so well.
And if nothing else, I really want to try egusi soup. I can only read about the stuff so many times without wanting to eat some for myself.
If you’re a fan of anything else Okorafor has written, then you will like Kabu Kabu. If you’re a fan of speculative short stories, you will like Kabu Kabu. If you’re a fan of expanding your mind and seeing non-white characters in non-Western settings, you will like Kabu Kabu. This is a book that should not be missed, not by anyone who’s reading this review, not by anyone who loves SFF stories. Jump into the worlds that Okorafor creates, and witness the stories woven and told by a master.
(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)