Naomi Alderman 

English novelist and game writer

Naomi Alderman is an English novelist and games writer who is best known for her 2016 novel The Power. Today she is considered one of the most important young writers of her generation.

Life Facts

  • Naomi Alderman was born in London, England.
  • She attended Oxford and the University of East Anglia.
  • She began her writing career interested in fan fiction.
  • She worked as a successful games writer.
  • Alderman published The Power in 2016.

Interesting Facts

  • Naomi Alderman grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community.
  • She won the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel, The Power.
  • Alderman was named one of the best Young British Novelists in Granta’s once-a-decade list.
  • She lost her religion while writing Disobedience. 
  • Alderman is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Famous Books by Naomi Alderman

The Power is the author’s best-known novel. It focuses on a dystopian future where women worldwide suddenly develop the power to release electric shocks from their fingertips. It was inspired by Alderman’s time working with Margaret Atwood and is dedicated to the Canadian author.

The Lessons was published in 2010 and took the author four years to complete. It is set at Oxford University, where the author went to school, focusing on a group of friends and what being rich does to one’s life. The novel focuses on themes like wealth and poverty and friendship.

The Liars’ Gospel was published in 2012. It focuses on Jesus, known in the novel as Yehoshuah, who works as a preacher in Judea. After his death, the author notes, people tell stories about his life. Specifically, Mary, Judas, Caiaphas, and Barabbas. It tells the history of the time as well as depicts a sometimes controversial image of Jesus as an inconsequential preacher.

Disobedience is thought to have been inspired by the author’s orthodox Jewish community she grew up in before moving to America. It tells the story of a North London rabbi’s bisexual daughter, Ronit Krushka, and her life in New York. Since its publication in 2006, it’s been translated into 10 languages. It, too, received some controversial reviews. 

Early Life and Education

Naomi Alderman is an English writer who was born in 1974 in London. She is the daughter of a historian and was educated at South Hampstead high school before attending Lincoln College, Oxford. At Oxford, she studied philosophy, politics, and economics.

In an interesting break from her career path so far, after leaving Oxford, she worked in children’s publishing and then editing documents for a law firm.

Career as a Games Writer

During her early career, she explored fan fiction writing, focusing on the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She created Buffy-inspired stories and plot lines that were published online and available for free. It was also during this time that she moved to the United States for her work.

In 2004, she worked for Mind Candy, holding the role of lead writer for the game Perplex City. She was also the lead writer for the app Zombies, Run! Which was incredibly popular following its release in 2012. She also worked on The Walk, an app released in 2013 that was later turned into a podcast.

Novel-Writing Career

Returning to England, she studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Soon after, she dedicated herself to becoming a novelist. Her first, disobedience, was published in 2006. It told the story of a North London rabbi’s bisexual daughter, Ronit Krushka, and her life in New York.

The book is thought to have been inspired by the author’s youth. Specifically the orthodox Jewish community she grew up in before moving to America. But, she has specifically noted that the novel was not based on events from her own life. It won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers and evoked positive, although in some cases controversial, reviews. Since then, the book has been translated into ten languages.

Her career soon took off when in 2007, the Sunday Times named her Young Writer of the Year. She was also listed on Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future list. When speaking about Disobedience, she describes how the writing process changed her life and her relationship with religion. In an interview, she said that she “went into the novel religious and at the end, I wasn’t. I wrote myself out of it.”

Her second novel, The Lessons, was published in 2010. It was quickly followed by The Liars’ Gospel in 2012. The latter focused on Jesus as a preacher. The book, like Disobedience, received some controversial reviews. Specifically for the fact that Alderman depicted Jesus as a preacher of little consequence. It is set in Jerusalem in 63 BC and is told from the perspectives of Mary, Judas, Caiaphas, and Barabbas.

Alderman’s best-known novel, The Power, was published in 2016. It was inspired by and dedicated to Canadian author Margaret Atwood. In 2012, Alderman was selected by Margaret Atwood to participate in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Together, Atwood and Alderman co-wrote a self-published work, “The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home.” Today, Alderman’s The Power is often listed alongside The Handmaid’s Tale as the best example of feminist dystopian fiction.

The novel sits firmly in the science fiction genre and focuses on a world in which women gain the ability to release electrical shocks from their fingers, changing the power dynamic around the world. The book won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times.

The rights to the novel were acquired by Sister Pictures, which will be making it into a television series. Today she is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. 

Influence from other Writers

Naomi Alderman was notably influenced by writers such as Margaret AtwoodGeorge Orwell, Alice Munro, Virginia Woolf, and Ray Bradbury.

Literature by Naomi Alderman

Explore literature by Naomi Alderman below, created by the team at Book Analysis