Naomi Alderman's "The Power": in which fierce power of women is awoken

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Naomi Alderman’s prizewinning UK bestseller The Power comes to the US and Canada today, and you should just go read it right now.

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I assume it means these women get to show their hair again?

This is a fantastic book and a really enjoyable read.

I first encountered her through the Zombies Run gameified running app and other than this I have only read The Liar’s Gospel (which is very good but I’m a bit of a nerd for writings on and by early Jesus groups and the pivot towards divinity and how movements transcend their human origin to become religions). But this is a level above I think, you get that feeling of someone knowing as they are writing it that there’s something special here and raising their game to it. I expected it to not maintain the tension, and the balancing act but she really IMHO nails it. Brilliant book.

It’s also worth noting that she is the first games writer that I’ve heard of winning a major literary award

Get it, read it.


I think I picked it up on sale at Amazon and read it expecting some sort of Blake-Crouch-esque fast-paced, but ultimately incredibly shallow and a bit shit, easy read. And I was wrong. It’s really very good indeed

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“Not much point in trying to get my job back now” - Harvey Weinstein

Conductive chadors, grounded.

I’ve been waiting for this book to come out in the US for so long, I forgot it even existed. Seriously, what’s with that kind of delay? Especially for a book that was winning awards and appearing on last year’s year-end-best-of lists. Was the publisher trying to find an American translator or something? /s

It’s funny though because she did write in American as far as I remember. It was kind of odd seeing an English writer do it so I thought they were going for the US market first…

I am the author and tbh the answer is ¯_(ツ)_/¯

The Power was published in the UK around US election time last year and I think that a lot of US publishers try to avoid putting out new “issue”/political novels around then because there’s always a danger that some big news wave will come along during Presidential election season and wipe out any other news for a few days. But I think it’s also that US publishers just tend to work on longer lead times, in my experience anyway? I delivered the novel at roughly the same time to my UK and US publishers but the US scheduled it for a year later. ¯_(ツ)_/¯


Is there any difference, content-wise, between the two versions? Like, should I make a point to read the US version because I’m in the US?

Thanks for asking! No, I made sure that the two versions are identical. I waited for notes from my US editor before finalising the UK version.


I don’t know the specifics of this case (tho I know Naomi, I haven’t asked her about it), but this is a “breakout book” so the likely way this shook down is that there was some kind of bidding war in the UK (good agents will develop these) and this gave her the negotiating leverage to retain her non-UK rights and sell them separately.

Given the profile of the book, it’s likely that her agent got her a really big advance from her US publisher, and the publisher will recoup that with a very splashy launch (tour, publicity, ads, media), which take time to set up. That kind of thing requires access to scarce in-house resources (publicists, etc) as well as time to set up (bookstores fill up their appearance calendars well in advance and also have to bid for the writer, promising large minimum orders and laying out their publicity plans).

The US publisher (I conjecture) bet that the lost publicity from not being able to draft on the UK buzz was more than compensated for by the additional publicity they’d get from being able to do it properly.

The good news is that having broken out, it’s likely that Alderman will now be doing day-and-date deals for followup novels, even if they come from different publishers, and will have to confront the difficult conundrum of how to tour the US and the UK when your books are published simultaneously in both territories.


I like how people say “breakout book”. I obviously cannot say that about myself ;-).

We did have a twelve-way bidding war for TV rights, and there are still US/Hollywood producers looking to get in on that. I have been having an exciting time trying to wangle my way onto movie sets.


Turning the frame of The Handmaid’s Tale on its head…

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I think this qualifies!


You know, this exchange is the kind of thing that makes BB pretty special, thanks!


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