REVIEW: “To Blight a Fig Tree Before it Bears Fruit” by Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley

Review of Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley, “To Blight a Fig Tree Before it Bears Fruit”, Apex Magazine 104: Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Eight brown, pregnant bodies are restrained on a stage, alive, but deeply uncomfortable. Soon, we find out why. The answer is a brutally honest look at what the wealthy and racially privileged would do to extend their own lives, if they only had the right technology. Everything but the technology itself is painfully plausible.

This is a powerful story. Short (barely longer than flash fiction, at less than 1500 words), but it packs a punch. I was impressed by the tightness of the prose, and the focus of the narrative. We stay in the present moment, with only a single flashback – when Meshee, our point of view character, thinks about what her mother would say about the situation. No mention of the history of the technology, or how she herself got to be in this position. Those answers aren’t relevant. The future is unknown. All that matters is what happens right now, on this stage.

The ending is perfect, and surprisingly hopeful. I highly recommend giving this gem a read!