Lavanya Lakshminarayan, "The Ten Percent Thief" (Solaris, 2023)


In Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s science fiction novel, The Ten Percent Thief (Solaris, 2023), is set in a world centered on meritocracy, where everyone is judged on the Bell Curve. Apex City, formerly Bangalore, divides its population into the Virtual and Analog societies where access to technology earns a stark difference in quality of life.

With the right image, values and opinions, citizens can ascend to the glittering heights of the Twenty Percent, the Virtual elite, they’re the movers and shakers with access to the best technology and thus the best quality of life. The risk of falling to the Ten Percent looms in most citizens’ minds with its threat of deportation to the Analog society where there is no access to electricity and running water, and limited access to humanity.

Told through the over 20 perspectives, the mosaic novel explores a future trajectory based on our current relationship with technology. Though the book was written prior to the covid 19 pandemic, Lakshminarayan noticed that during the pandemic “the lines between privilege were even starker.” She says, “that was actually really heartbreaking for me. I didn't expect that a lot of the more extreme disparities that I portray in the novel would feel so real in such an extreme way so soon.”

The novel was first released in South Asia to critical acclaim and is now making its debut in the U.S. and U.K.

Lavanya Lakshminarayan is the author of Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future. She is a Locus Award finalist and is the first science fiction writer to win the Times of India AutHer Award and the Valley of Words Award, both prestigious literary awards in India, and her work has been longlisted for a BSFA Award. She’s occasionally a game designer, and has built worlds for Zynga Inc.’s FarmVille franchise, Mafia Wars, and other games. She lives in India, and is currently working on her next novel.

Brenda Noiseux hosts New Books in Science Fiction.

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Brenda Noiseux

Brenda Noiseux is a host of New Books in Science Fiction.

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