It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.
These are the thoughts of one of the characters in Naomi Alderman’s The Power – specifically, the thoughts of a woman who has discovered she has the ability to pass a devastating electrical current through her hands into the body of her condescending and misogynist political rival. If she wanted.
Power: the focus of the book we read for our second meet-up with Book Chats @ ABC Amsterdam, and the focus of our conversation on a sunny Spring evening at the ABC. Once again, over cookies and tea and (more popularly, given the balmy Spring weather) ice-water, the book club convened on the second floor of ABC Amsterdam to discuss another of last year’s most inspiring and controversial novels, The Power, a novel which imagines a world in which the gendered hierarchy is turned upside down as young women develop the ability to deliver deadly shocks at will.
The Power is one of those rare books that may polarize opinions on plot, characterization, and quality, but seems undeniably important and timely in the themes it explores. Alderman’s novel seems a direct response to a year in which the depths of institutionalized misogyny and sexism began to show very clearly – yet not the kind of response you might expect. Over the course of our hour-long chat we talked ourselves through the sneaky game Alderman plays with the plot of The Power and came up with a few conclusions (and a lot of questions) about power ourselves – though to say more would be to risk spoilers. But needless to say, whether you love Naomi Alderman’s latest novel or not, it’s a read that’s sure to inspire a lot of the kinds of questions that we ought to be asking ourselves, now more than ever.
And, speaking of inspiration, I’m truly happy to give a shout-out to one of our book club members who used last month’s conversation on Exit West as a springboard to writing her own hybrid essay-review of Hamid’s novel and getting it published! The piece, “Exit War – The Doors Will Take Us”, can be found here and is well worth a read.
We’ll be looking forward to another inspiring meeting to talk about Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad at the next installment of ABC Book Chats, on May 18th!
Until then, happy reading to all!