The Immortal King Rao

Recorded Books. May 2022. 15:05 hrs. ISBN 9781705068496. $24.99. F
Vara’s debut novel, a genre-bending blend of speculative fiction, climate fiction, and personal narrative, tells the chillingly plausible story of a world where capitalistic technology reigns supreme, and catastrophic climate change is certain. With a crystal-clear, lilting voice, narrator Soneela Nankani reveals that King Rao, considered immortal by some, has been killed, and his surrogate daughter, 17-year-old Athena, has been implicated in his death. As she sits in prison, Athena, who can access her father’s memories through a technology called the Clarinet, reflects on her father’s past. Listeners will hear the dawning sorrow in her voice as she begins to understand how his past—growing up in a Dalit family on a South Indian coconut plantation and later migrating to the United States—set him on a path toward unimaginable success and inevitable destruction. Nankani deftly navigates the changing landscapes and time periods in this epic tale, imbuing the characters with depth through her skillful use of accents and tonal shifts.
VERDICT : Listeners will be captivated by this multi-layered story, which is highly recommended for fans of near-future dystopian fiction in the vein of Rob Hart’s The Warehouse or Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl.
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