April 2020: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet, Akwaeke Emezi

April was a trying month for us all in 2020. The first full month of lockdown had knocked us for six and we were adjusting to online meetings.

Pet is a deceptively complex novel for younger readers. Jam is a black selectively verbal trans girl who lives in a supposed “utopia” where monsters have been eradicated (monsters being a metaphor for “bad people”) until one day, Jam comes face to face with Pet, a being conceived from her mother’s artwork, who insists that he has come to Lucille (the Utopian world) to hunt a monster. ‘How can this be’ Jam thinks, ‘when all of the monsters were defeated by the angels?’

The answer, dear reader, is that “Angels can look like many things. So can monsters.”

Even more distressing to the endearing Jam is that Pet believed the monster resides in the house of her best friend, Redemption.

This book was steeped in metaphor and imagery, and also full of fantastic representation with an entirely black ‘cast’ and a polyamorous relationship. Added to that, Emezi is nonbinary.

We all loved this book, and Akwaeke Emezi has become a book club favourite. Check out Freshwater (which landed them a place on the long list of the ‘Women’s’ Prize for Fiction) and their newest release The Death of Vivek Oji for some more excellent works.