We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Rope by Khairani Barokka along with the NCW Book Club. There is still time to look back over the conversation via our Discord community, writing prompts and questions for readers to help you get the most out of reading our chosen book.
If you’ve finished the book and would love something similarly brilliant to add to your ‘To Be Read’ pile, why not try one of these recommended reads? We’ve compiled the following list of books in a wide array of genres, all of which continue to explore Okka’s themes of bodies, human entanglement with the environment, and travel.
For our next Book Club book, we’ll be reading A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. Watch this space for more details coming soon!
More by Khairani Barokka
Ultimatum Orangutan (Nine Arches)
Okka’s latest collection of poetry continues her themes of environmental justice, the body and the legacies of colonialism with a new urgency and a huge generosity. With her trademark imagery and lyricism, Okka explores “the glow of a supernova / that is our own destruction”, shedding light on violence and climate crisis, but always with an eye for the strange beauties and radical potential of our times.
Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis)
Combining Okka’s poetry with her extraordinary visual art, Indigenous Species takes the form of a ballad for a kidnapped girl. Taken upriver by her captors, the girl encounters what is left of the land that is her home: a jungle scarred by pollution and extraction. Determined to save herself, she realises that the fate of her environment is bound up with her own.
Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches)
Co-edited by Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman, this anthology brings together poems, essays and artwork by some of the foremost D/deaf and disabled writers at work today. Featuring the likes of Raymond Antrobus, Jackie Hagan and Joanne Limburg, and available in a range of formats, Stairs and Whispers disrupts ableist narratives and shows the range and ambition of its contributing writers.
Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi (Bloodaxe)
In this book, writer and dancer Tishani Doshi explores what it means to live in a mortal body. Taking in the arrival of the first grey hairs, cultural differences in body language, and strange meetings in a dentist’s waiting room, these poems treat changing bodies and relationships with gentleness and humour. Death stalks through the pages, throwing into sharp relief all the richness of daily life.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (Cape Poetry)
Ocean Vuong’s collection examines bodies in all their states – love, desire, fear, grief. In these poems we’re invited to find moments of tenderness in letters, footnotes and notebook fragments. Famed for its precise, graceful writing, it’s no wonder that Night Sky with Exit Wounds has won multiple awards – and it’s well worth adding to your TBR, too.
Environment and entanglement
What Willow Says by Lynn Buckle (Epoque)
Soon to be published in May 2021, Lynn Buckle’s latest novel tells the story of a grandmother and her grandchild who come together through their love of trees. As they communicate in sign language and learn to understand the landscape around them, changes in the outside world are mirrored in their family. Lynn was recently one of our digital writers in residence – find out more about the Imagining the City project here.
Event Factory by Renee Gladman (Dorothy)
Event Factory is the first in Renee Gladman’s extraordinary series of novels set in the fictional city of Ravicka. Arriving in Ravicka in the middle of a mysterious crisis, our protagonist immerses herself in a city that is never still. As she tries to orientate herself in this strange new place, we find that the city has its own power and asks its own questions. This book is an experimental look at how we move through urban spaces from a truly unique writer.
Tentacle by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas (And Other Stories)
In this fearless, twisting novel, Rita Indiana tells the story of Acilde, who has a chance to save the world from environmental catastrophe. Acilde travels through time and different bodies in a tale that weaves colonial history, waking dreams and prophecy to show that human society, art and the environment are never truly separate.
Greenery by Tim Dee (Vintage)
Combining nature and travel writing, Greenery sees Tim Dee trace the passage of spring from the equator northwards. Along this epic journey he encounters swallows wintering in South Africa, the opening of blossoms, and eventually the signs of new life in even the coldest of climates. If you’ve been longing for brighter days recently, this is the perfect book with which to celebrate the changing of the clocks and the arrival of the new season.
Between Stations by Kim Cheng Boey (Giramondo)
When we travel, our experiences of the place we are in connect with our memories of the home we have left behind. It is this state of in-betweenness that Kim Cheng Boey explores in Between Stations. As we follow the author’s journeys around the world and eventual arrival in Australia, we are drawn back to the now vanished Singapore of his childhood. All in all, this is a complex and captivating meditation on what it means to leave one home for another.
Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai by Nina Mingya Powles (The Emma Press)
In this slim, sensuous book and travelling between Aotearoa New Zealand and Shanghai, Nina Mingya Powles traces the changing of the seasons and her relationships with her heritage and host culture, all through the medium of food. Chapters on the likes of spring onion noodles in winter and the banana fritters of spring open into meditations on what it means to re-encounter language and culture through the pleasures of eating well.