World-building is the core of extraordinary science fiction—the ability to craft the contours, substance and heft of whole societies. What N.K. Jemisin accomplishes in each of her works defies the standard “us vs. them” narrative and instead dares readers to bring their lived experiences into the space she has imagined. As our nation grappled with the stubborn ephemera of justice and the harsh consequences of a pandemic, Jemisin, who received a 2020 MacArthur “genius” grant, constructed a revolutionary exploration of the places where we live in The City We Became. Through the anima of New York, she invited us all to become freedom fighters. We are slowly emerging from extended isolation; and for millions, the notion of a shared public identity remains brittle. But Jemisin’s genius is in how effortlessly she shatters our misconceptions about one another and our world, then invites us to dream to do better.
Abrams is the founder of Fair Fight Action and a former Democratic minority leader for the Georgia house of representatives
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