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Karen Lord

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Karen Lord
Lord at an environmental awareness literary event in Barbados, 2009
Lord at an environmental awareness literary event in Barbados, 2009
BornKaren Antoinette Roberta Lord
22 May 1968
EducationQueen’s College
Alma materUniversity of Toronto;
Bangor University
GenreFantasy, social science fiction, speculative fiction
SubjectSociology of religion
Notable worksRedemption in Indigo (2010), The Best of All Possible Worlds (2013)
Notable awards

Karen Lord (born 22 May 1968) is a Barbadian writer of speculative fiction. Her first novel, Redemption in Indigo (2010), retells the story "Ansige Karamba the Glutton" from Senegalese folklore and her second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds (2013), is an example of social science fiction. Lord also writes on the sociology of religion.[1]


Karen Lord was born in Barbados.[2] She attended Queen's College in Bridgetown, and earned a science degree from the University of Toronto and a PhD in the sociology of religion from Bangor University[3][4] (conferred in 2008, the first year of its independence from the University of Wales).


Redemption in Indigo was originally published in 2010 by Small Beer Press, and republished in 2012 by Quercus under its Jo Fletcher Books imprint for SF, fantasy, and horror titles.[5] The New York Times called it "a clever, exuberant mix of Caribbean and Senegalese influences that balances riotously funny set pieces ... with serious drama",[6] the Caribbean Review of Books commented that the novel is "very sprightly from start to finish, with vivid descriptions, memorable heroes and villains, brisk pacing",[7] and it was summed up by Booklist as "one of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed".[8]

The Best of All Possible Worlds was published by Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus and Del Rey Books/Random House in 2013. One reviewer called it "a thoughtful and emotional novel ... one of the most enjoyable books I've recently read",[9] while Nalo Hopkinson wrote in the Los Angeles Review of Books: "The Best of All Possible Worlds put me in mind of Junot Díaz’s brilliant novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Not stylistically: while Oscar Wao is an experimental pelau of modes served up in Díaz’s distinctly Dominicano and in-your-face voice, The Best of All Possible Worlds is a beautiful shape-shifter."[10]

The Galaxy Game, which was released on 6 January 2015 from Del Rey Books/Random House,[11] was described in an early review as "a satisfying exercise in being off-balance, a visceral lesson in how to fall forward and catch yourself in an amazing new place."[12] Publishers Weekly referred to it as a "subtle, cerebral novel",[13] while The Guardian wrote that "the novel is a leisurely exploration of multiple societies, power-politics and race relations, in which discursive plot lines deceive before cohering in a satisfying finale."[14]

The Blue, Beautiful World was published in August 2023 by Del Rey in the US and Gollancz in the UK.[15] It was described by The Guardian as a "complex, engaging novel [...] with a warmth and intelligence reminiscent of Ursula K Le Guin."[16] The Big Issue characterised it as "infused with a kind of forward-thinking empathy and respect" and noted that the novel "has a lot to say about post-colonialism, though [Lord] plays with those ideas in a subtle and open-hearted fashion."[17]

Short stories[edit]

Lord's short story "Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts" was published in the anthology Reach for Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan (2014),[18] and she contributed the short story "Cities of the Sun" to Margaret Busby's 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa.[19][20]


Redemption in Indigo won the 2008 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript,[21] the 2010 Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award,[22] the 2011 Crawford Award,[23] the 2011 Mythopoeic Award,[24] and the 2012 Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award for the Best Debut Novel.[25]

Redemption in Indigo was also nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel[26] and for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer,[27] and longlisted for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.[28]

The Blue, Beautiful World was longlisted for the 2024 Women's Prize for Fiction.[29]



  • Redemption in Indigo. Small Beer Press, Jo Fletcher Books, 2010. (ISBN 978-1780873084), 2012.
  • The Best of All Possible Worlds. Jo Fletcher Books, 2013. (hardback ISBN 978-1780871660; paperback ISBN 978-1780871684).
  • The Galaxy Game. London: Jo Fletcher Books. 2015. ISBN 978-1-78087-689-4.
  • Unravelling. DAW Books, 2019. (ISBN 978-0-7564-1520-4).
  • The Blue, Beautiful World. Del Rey, 2023. (ISBN 978-0593598436).[15][17][30]
Reprints/other editions

As editor[edit]

Critical studies and reviews of Lord's work[edit]

The Best of all Possible Worlds
  • Spinrad, Norman (October–November 2013). "Genre versus literature". On Books. Asimov's Science Fiction. 37 (10–11): 182–191.
The Galaxy Game
  • Sakers, Don (June 2015). "The Reference Library". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 135 (6): 105–108.



  1. ^ For instance, "Negotiating identity: the Christian individual and the secular institution". John Reader; Christopher R. Baker, eds. (2009). Entering the New Theological Space: Blurred Encounters of Faith, Politics and Community. Ashgate. p. 256. ISBN 9780754663393. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
  2. ^ Karen Lord biography Archived 2018-03-10 at the Wayback Machine at The Cooke Agency.
  3. ^ "Karen Lord | Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  4. ^ WorldCat library record of Ph.D. thesis, Bangor University 2008, Karen Antoinette Roberta Lord: Quantifying implicit religion: a critical assessment of definitions, hypotheses, methods and measures. OCLC 256468508. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  5. ^ Karen Lord page at Jo Fletcher Books.
  6. ^ Jeff Vandermeer, "Science Fiction Chronicle", New York Times (Sunday Book Review), 3 September 2010.
  7. ^ Robert Edison Sandiford, "Redemption song", Caribbean Review of Books, September 2010.
  8. ^ Booklist, 15 May 2010.
  9. ^ "REVIEW: The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord" Archived 8 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine at Upcoming4.me, 13 June 2014.
  10. ^ Nalo Hopkinson, "Beautiful Shape-Shifter: Karen Lord's 'The Best of All Possible Worlds'", Los Angeles Review of Books, 22 April 2013.
  11. ^ The Galaxy Game page at Random House.
  12. ^ Nisi Shawl, "Karen Lord’s ‘The Galaxy Game’: power tripping", Seattle Times, 11 January 2015.
  13. ^ "The Galaxy Game" (review), Publishers Weekly, 6 October 2014.
  14. ^ Eric Brown, "The best science fiction in January – review roundup", The Guardian, 16 January 2015.
  15. ^ a b "The Blue, Beautiful World". Karen Lord official website. Retrieved 2024-04-06.
  16. ^ Tuttle, Lisa (2023-09-08). "The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup". The Guardian. Retrieved 2024-04-06.
  17. ^ a b Johnstone, Doug (2023-08-27). "The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord review: Otherworldly sci-fi". The Big Issue. Retrieved 2024-04-06.
  18. ^ Alexander, Niall (12 June 2014). "Step into the Stars: Reach for Infinity, ed. Jonathan Strahan". Tor.com. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  19. ^ Lord, Karen (26 March 2019). "Just arrived". Karen Lord.
  20. ^ Tower Sargent, Lyman (2016). "Utopian Literature in English: An Annotated Bibliography From 1516 to the Present | Biblio". Open Publishing. Penn State University Libraries. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Winners". Official Frank Collymore Hall Website. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  22. ^ "Carl Brandon Society Awards". Carl Brandon Society. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  23. ^ "2011 Crawford Award Announced". International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA). 28 January 2011. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  24. ^ "Mythopoeic Awards 2011". Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  25. ^ "The Kitschies: The Golden Tentacle". The Kitschies. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  26. ^ "World Fantasy Awards 2011". World Fantasy Convention website. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  27. ^ "Karen Lord - Award Bibliography", Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
  28. ^ "2011 OCM Bocas Prize Longlist Announced". NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  29. ^ Creamer, Ella (2024-03-05). "Anne Enright and Isabella Hammad make the Women's prize for fiction longlist". The Guardian.
  30. ^ El-Mohtar, Amal (2023-10-13). "P.O.V.: You're a Jane Austen Character in an Alternate Universe". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-11-01.

External links[edit]