The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.Ā 

What a book this is. It’s glorious in its scope, worldbuilding (albeit atop our own world) which is second to none, and characters? Oh, the characters.

I do love a story with a sense of place, and this book is ALL about place. Some books you feel that the location could almost be a character in itself, but in The City We Became, that is literally true. You see New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. And it’s these five parts which make up the whole, which must come together to fight off the ancient evil which lurks beneath.

Jemisin’s knack for character really shines here. Each of the boroughs, much like in NYC itself (I imagine) has its own distinct personality, its own quirks, its own relationship with the others and the whole. And what I loved about this book is that Jemisin takes the time to let them come to life, to breathe and become real, even as the story whistles along at breakneck pace.

It’s a great story too – New York is in the process of being born, of becoming A City. Its city avatars, in the form of the boroughs, become aware of themselves as part of the larger whole, and the powers that come with it.

And there’s a missing sixth player in the game, the city itself. And the Enemy is cunning and crafty and immense and ancient, and will stop at nothing to destroy New York itself. Can the five come together to find the sixth in time to avert catastrophe?

I just love Jemisin’s writing. Each page oozes atmosphere, the dialogue crackles with life and the picture she paints of NYC is stunning in breadth and scope. This is full on, widescreen four-dimensional New York, sights, sounds and smells and all. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Hugely recommended.

The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin is published by Orbit Books and is out now. Huge thanks to Nazia at Orbit for the advance review copy.

A visit to the Hepworth Gallery

Today I went to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield to have a poke around the Martin Parr exhibition The Rhubarb Triangle and Other Stories.

Now, try as I might, I just don’t ‘get’ Parr’s photography. There are over 370 of Parr’s photos on show, covering a 40 year period of his work. I spent a good while wandering the galleries and the photos, whilst expressive, just didn’t really click for me. They seemed slightly… joyless and deadpan, with hardly a smile in sight, especially the rhubarb collection. I know that a great many people do love his photographs though, and am more than happy to be in the minority. Each to his own, and all that.

I do adore the Hepworth Gallery though, and it’s full of lovely art that I did like. The Barbara Hepworth sculptures are simply stunning and well worth the trip to see.

winged figure ~ Barbara Hepworth
winged figure ~ Barbara Hepworth

winged figure ~ Barbara Hepworth
winged figure ~ Barbara Hepworth

Spring, 1966, plaster with strings

Having given up (reluctantly) on Parr, I took to mooching around making some of my own photographs (hurrah for galleries and museums where photography is permitted!).


works of art are fragi
do not touch the fragi art

empty chair


one of these things is not like the others



It might not be art (or is it?, but I know what I like. And that’s good enough for me.

Instagram inspiration: @trashhand

Thinking about starting a new series on here looking at Instagram photographers I really admire.

First up is Trashhand, a photographer from Chicago. First came across his work on his Skillshare class Cityscape Photography. It’s a fantastic class and I’d highly recommend it. Blown away to discover he only started shooting in 2011!

I’d also recommend checking out his blog for some more superb photographs.

I was fascinated to see how he goes about making photographs for his instagram feed. Well worth a look.

This may become a regular series. Who are your favourite instagrammers?

On photography

Sometimes when I’m out and about, I’m struck by a scene. Something catches my eye and almost before I know it, the camera comes out and I’m making a photograph. Something about the blacks and yellows with that little splash of red.


I’m sure that passers-by must think I’m strange – standing in the lit entrance of a parking garage with my phone out, moving slightly to the left, then back to the right, looking for the perfect spot.

Or, later on the walk up home, noticing the streetlights are out, but the lights on the bus stop aren’t, leaving an almost Hopper-esque image.

Then the bus showed up.


I do love a good long exposure shot.

black coffee

The quote made me laugh. šŸ™‚