Regeneration, the third and final book of the ®Evolution sequence, is about to drop in North America. Given that it’s been out in the UK for the past eight months, I’ve already done a lot of public meditating on what it’s ‘like’ to have completed the trilogy (short answer: I don’t really know what it’s like. To what can you compare it?). Now I’m thinking about the internationalist dimension. One of the things that I’ve found fascinating, and often surprising, over the past few years is the different ways in which the books have been received and understood in different countries and communities.
When my first novel Gemsigns was published in the UK, its story of a genetically altered and newly liberated minority becoming established in a largely derelict London enclave, competing for jobs with the norm majority and demanding equality and enfranchisement, was often read as a metaphor for one of our biggest contemporary political issues: immigration. But when it hit the US, and my native country Jamaica, it was immediately and just about universally understood as resonating with the history of African enslavement, emancipation, and our ongoing legacies of discrimination and inequality. Readers on both sides of the pond also noted the relevance to LGBT communities; and, given the tension in the book between engineered super-abilities and physical and psychological damage, to issues around (dis)ability.
Binary continued those themes, this time via the lens of celebrity culture on the one hand, as well as the challenge of having relationships and families across those genetic/ethnic lines. And again, that was read a bit differently between the UK and the US where, let’s face it, being part of a ‘mixed couple’ and having ‘mixed-race children’ is still a much bigger deal, resulting in much more public comment and sometimes (still!) condemnation. The book also looked at the burden of history, the need to somehow reconcile with the horrors of the past; something that I think Americans (to their credit) tend to be more conscious of, if not necessarily much closer to accomplishing.
So I’m wondering how Regeneration, with its prospect of an energy market about to be hugely disrupted and quite possibly taken over by a minority group, will strike my North American readers. I’ll be interested to see whether the fact that the gillungs’ revolutionary – and proprietary – technology is a direct result of the ways in which they’ve been physically altered and intensively trained to serve the interests of others is perceived as a just irony, or as a warning. I wonder, in this age of political turmoil, recrimination and bombast, whether readers will view the passage of power from the establishment to the outsiders as a natural and timely evolution – or a dire threat.
I wonder, as I do in all my books, how people will react to change.
Regeneration is (among other things) about the lengths to which the privileged are prepared to go in order to hold on to what they have; but it’s also about what some of them are prepared to give up, to stand aside for, to forego. It’s about transitions both peaceful and violent. It’s about the changing of an age. And in a place which understands so much of its own narrative as one of winners vs. losers, I wonder who they will think has won here, and who has lost.
Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration are published in the US and UK by Jo Fletcher Books.