Downtown

N.K. Jemisin receives the Brooklyn Book Festival’s BoBi Award

September 16, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Novelist N.K. Jemisin, second from left, holds her BoBi Award. At far left is Brooklyn Book Festival Co-Producer Carolyn Greer. Brooklyn Literary Council Chairman Johnny Temple is second from right and Brooklyn Book Festival Co-Producer Liz Koch stands next to him. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Three cheers for literary rock star N.K. Jemisin!

She’s the creator of mind-blowing fictive realms whose perils and problems mirror the ones we find in the real world.

The epic fantasy novels in her “Broken Earth” trilogy each won science fiction writing’s distinguished Hugo Award for best novel — “The Fifth Season” in 2016, “The Obelisk Gate” in 2017 and “The Stone Sky” in 2018.

She is the only author in the history of the prestigious award to receive it three years in a row.

On Saturday night, another honor came Jemisin’s way: The Brooklyn Book Festival’s BoBi Award.

The acronym stands for Best of Brooklyn Inc.

‘The addictive quality of a Stephen King novel’

“These books have the addictive quality of a Stephen King novel and the grit and soul-wrenching of a Toni Morrison book, all driven by incredibly intricate and brilliantly conceived story lines,” Brooklyn Literary Council Chairman Johnny Temple said at Jemisin’s awards ceremony.

And oh, yes — they’ve got humor and “utterly captivating sex scenes” in them, too, he said.

The awards ceremony took place at performing arts space Roulette in Boerum Hill.

Temple spent several days raptly reading Jemisin’s trilogy while completely neglecting his family and his work. He’s the publisher and editor-in-chief of Akashic Books, an independent publishing house.

Temple, who called Jemisin “a phenomenal writer,” said she’s the first science fiction and fantasy author to win the BoBi Award.

“We are truly fortunate to have N.K. Jemisin bring us truth, insight and understanding in the very beautiful art she creates,” Temple said.

The BoBi Award, given annually, goes to “an author whose work best exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn,” the book festival’s website notes.

Past BoBi recipients include Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Woodson, Jonathan Lethem and James McBride.

‘Stories about the myths and fears that have made us who we are’

At the award ceremony on Saturday night, Jemisin said some people have erroneous ideas about science fiction because their “only exposure to this field is usually a 60-year-old TV show.”

Actually, science fiction and fantasy are about “religion and climate change and how we get health care and institutional corruption and microaggressions and resistance to oppressive, exploitative systems” — and have been “pretty much since their inception,” she said.

Growing numbers of readers are starting to realize this.

“I am pleased to say this award suggests the mainstream is finally catching up to what genre fiction has always been — stories about the myths and fears that have made us who we are and the aspirations that guide us to where we want to be,” Jemisin said.
The BoBi Award winner is scheduled to appear today at a 1 p.m. book festival panel called “The Children of LeGuin” and a 3 p.m. panel called “Best of Brooklyn: N.K. Jemisin in Conversation.”