THE POWER

Naomi Alderman

Winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power?

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death.

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Winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power?

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

From award-winning author Naomi Alderman, The Power is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

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  • Little, Brown & Company
  • Hardcover
  • October 2017
  • 400 Pages
  • 9780316547611

Buy the Book

$26.00

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About Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman is the author of The Liars’ Gospel and Disobedience, which won the Orange Prize for New Writers, has been published in 10 languages, and is being made into a film by Rachel Weisz.

Author Website

Praise

The Power is our era’s The Handmaid’s Tale.”Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Novels based on premises like the one at the core of The Power can quickly become little more than thought experiments, but Alderman dodges this trap deftly — her writing is beautiful, and her intelligence seems almost limitless. She also has a pitch-dark sense of humor that she wields perfectly.”Michael Schaub, NPR

“Narratively complex, philosophically searching, and gorgeously rendered.”Lisa SheaElle

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think the author bookends the novel with the correspondence between Neil and Naomi? What is the tone of their exchange? Did it color your impression of the rest of the story?

2. What is the role of the epigraph that begins “The people came to Samuel” at the beginning of the book (7) and the passages from the “Book of Eve” that appear throughout? What did you think was the significance of the artwork that appears between some chapters?

3. Why do you think the author chose to depict the central events of the book through three female characters and one male? And why through four characters of different age groups, from adolescent to young adult to adult? Was there a perspective you would have liked to see depicted as a main character? What might that person’s experience of the world of the Power have been like?

4. The part titles in the book seem to indicate a countdown. Before the end of the book, did you have an idea of what it was counting down to? When do you think the main storyline takes place in relation to our present day? When in relation to Neil and Naomi’s time?

5. What would you do with the Power if you had it? Do you think you would feel and behave differently than you do now? Would you adapt quickly or have some difficulty?

6. What do you think is the nature of the voice that speaks to Allie? Did you believe it was of divine or supernatural origin? Does she believe it?

7. Both Allie and Margot are told, at different points in the book, “You can’t get there from here” (133, 330, 364). What do you think this means in context? Do you agree with this assessment?

8.What are some of the ways boys and men react as girls and women begin to manifest the Power? Do you think their choices are understandable under the circumstances? Is there a scenario that wasn’t explored in the book but that you think would also be plausible in this altered world?

9. In one scene, Tunde wonders, “When did he get so jumpy? And he knows when. It wasn’t this last thing that made it happen. This fear has been building up in him… It has been a long time since he’s felt comfort in a night walk” (337). What do you think accounts for his dread? Is it specific to him or somehow symptomatic of the world as it has evolved in the book?

10. Neil writes, “Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn’t. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it’s hollow. Look under the shells: it’s not there” (381) Do you agree with this idea? If so, why? If not, how would you rebut Neil’s argument?

11. “When does power exist? Only in the moment it is exercised. To the woman with a skein, everything looks like a fight.” Do you this this is true? What is the problem with the idea? Are there other forms of power?