Thursday, June 29, 2023

6 Books with Kemi Ashing-Giwa

Credit Ivy Tran
At 22-years-old, Kemi Ashing-Giwa is a PhD student at Stanford University. She earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, studying integrative biology and astrophysics, both of which play a role in her stories. Her short fiction has been published in Tor, Kaleidotrope, and Anathema: Spec from the Margins. Today she tells us about her Six Books.

1. What book are you currently reading?

I usually like to finish one book at a time, but two of my buddy-reads ended up overlapping, and several library holds became available all at once. As a result, I’m hopping between four books at the moment: John Scalzi’s The Human Division, which is likely going to be my favorite of his books; F.C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi, which has turned out to be unexpectedly and pleasantly dark; the last entry in Richard K. Morgan’s A Land Fit for Heroes series, The Dark Defiles; and Alan Mikhail’s God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World. This is my first time reading several books for fun at once, and I’m having a blast.


2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

Oh, that’s tough. It’s a tie between Shelley Parker-Chan’s He Who Drowned the World (sequel to She Who Became the Sun) and Ness Brown’s The Scourge Between Stars.

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to read again?

No, but only because I never reread books. If I did, I’d never make any progress on my to-read list. That being said, I wouldn’t mind going through Martha Wells' The Murderbot Diaries again. It’s probably my favorite series, in any genre.

4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?

Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves—very positively. Typically, my enjoyment of the beginning of a book aligns closely with my overall impression. Not so here. I tried and failed to get past the first hundred pages of this doorstopper four or five times before finally breaking through, and I’m so glad I did. There’s a reason the first chapters take place forty years before the real story begins, and readers will find their patience richly rewarded. Black Wolves is incredible, easily one of my favorite fantasy books of all time. 

The things I’d do to get my hands on the sequel…

5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, absolutely. I read it during the middle of quarantine, and it’s one of the books that got me back into reading for pleasure in college. The characters feel so heartbreakingly real; the world is fully-realized on every level, rich and deeply lived-in. This book changed my life in more ways than one; I don’t think I would’ve ever pursued publishing if it hadn’t convinced me there could be a place for my stories on shelves. Anyone who reads my longer fiction will likely find my admiration for Jemisin’s work obvious.

6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome?

My latest book is also my debut! It’s called The Splinter in the Sky, and it’s a spy thriller space opera about a tea specialist-turned-assassin who embarks on a quest to rescue her kidnapped sibling. But doing so, she soon discovers, might require taking down an empire. This is a story about the far-reaching effects of imperialism, as well as the simultaneous commodification, absorption, and erasure of culture. It’s about how systems of oppression—and the beliefs sustaining them—rise and fall. But most importantly, it's a story about family, friendship, and the necessity of hope. 

Thank you, Kemi!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.