clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Spend June with a novel of colonialism, technological capitalism, and coconuts

The next Vox Book Club pick is The Immortal King Rao.

If you buy something from a Vox link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara.
Left: W. W. Norton & Company. Right: Rachel Woolf.
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

The Vox Book Club is linking to to support local and independent booksellers.

This June, the Vox Book Club is reading the playful, provocative, and thoughtful new novel The Immortal King Rao, by former Wall Street Journal tech reporter and New Yorker business editor Vauhini Vara. Part intimate family drama, part technological allegory, and part alternate history turned dystopia, The Immortal King Rao spans centuries and continents to draw a damning portrait of life under technological capitalism.

King Rao is born in the 1960s on a South Indian coconut plantation. He dies — his daughter Athena tells us from her jail cell — over a century later, having abolished the nation-state as a system of government and run the world as global CEO. Now, his daughter Athena is passing on his life story. Her hope is that it will become a manifesto that will save the human race on the brink of climate-change-induced extinction. But the world isn’t exactly eager to hear Athena’s tale.

This is a heady, ambitious novel, dense with ideas. Let’s unpack them together. At the end of the month, we’ll meet Vara live on Zoom, and you can RSVP here. In the meantime, subscribe to the Vox Book Club newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything.

The full Vox Book Club schedule for June 2022

Friday, June 17: Discussion post on The Immortal King Rao published to

Thursday, June 30, 5 pm ET: Virtual live event with author Vauhini Vara. Reader questions are encouraged!

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.