Native Tongue

audio cd

Published July 16, 2019 by HighBridge Audio.


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4 stars (6 reviews)

Called "fascinating" by the New York Times upon its first publication in 1984, Native Tongue won wide critical praise and cult status, and has often been compared to the futurist fiction of Margaret Atwood. Set in the twenty-second century, the novel tells of a world where women are once again property, denied civil rights and banned from public life. Earth's wealth depends on interplanetary commerce with alien races, and linguists--a small, clannish group of families--have become the ruling elite by controlling all interplanetary communication. Their women are used to breed perfect translators for all the galaxies' languages.

Nazareth Chornyak, the most talented linguist of the family, is exhausted by her constant work translating for trade organizations, supervising the children's language education, running the compound, and caring for the elderly men. She longs to retire to the Barren House, where women past childbearing age knit, chat, and wait to die. What …

9 editions

interesting universe in a series I'd never heard of, with good characters

5 stars

Such a good book. Highly recommend to any scifi fan, but probably not going to be a page turner if you aren't into scifi already (e.g. you frequently feel scifi is just all endless world building).

Edit: It's funny reading others' reviews of this book... I'd never have bothered picking this up, because so many readers are calling out poor character writing. That's my biggest pet peeve with older SciFi. I don't know if I loved this book because the concept carried me through, or if I just disagree about the characters, but I'm very glad I've read this and I'm definitely reading the next book in the trilogy.

Review of 'Native Tongue' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

This novel is often compared to The Handmaid's Tale. True, it's the same white feminist speculative fiction, portraying a terrible unthinkable dystopia where white women are terribly oppressed by... having their own agency stripped from them (while being well cared about). So scary, so unbelievable, I cannot even imagine how people could deny other people agency. I mean, this never happened with white people before.
Needless to say, there are no people of color, no non-binary folks, no queer relationships. Everybody not fitting into white women-men dichotomy have simply vanished at some point of the history, and nobody noticed or deemed it deserving to be mentioned even in passing.

That being said, as opposed to The Handmaid's Tale, this novel has some plot which is interesting on its own; and the speculative fiction part is implemented with quite original setup with linguists and aliens (not going to write any spoilers …

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3 stars