Weekend read: ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman

Who run the world?


By Su Fen Tan

Weekend read: ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman

If you’re looking to stay in with a good page-turner this weekend, consider Naomi Alderman’s The Power—it won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and Obama listed it in his selection of best reads in 2017 as well.

Dubbed our era’s Handmaid’s Tale by The Washington Post, the dystopian novel is set in a world where women possess a power that turns them into the dominant gender. It all begins when young women suddenly develop the ability release electrical jolts from their fingers, making them physically threatening to men. “It’s some sort of electrical thing which will both hurt you, like an electric shock, and will also somehow trigger the pain centers in your brain,” Alderman told NPR. “So it’s the power to cause pain by violence.”


As more girls start learning how to harness this power, they also begin to teach older women how to use it—a gender revolution ensues. Victims of sex traffickers are now able to fight back against their assailants, and oppressed women in male-dominated countries are able to stand up for themselves. But it’s not a peachy feminist picture that Alderman tries to paint here, as boys are segregated into single-sex schools for their own safety, and sexual violence flows in the opposite direction.


It’s a work of fiction that provokes thoughts on the nature of power. Why do people abuse power? Something to ponder on this weekend. 

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