Promised Land

The Encoding

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Book 1 of Promised Land
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Pub Date Apr 09 2024 | Archive Date Oct 31 2024

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Description

In a not so distant and very near dystopian future where black history has been all but forgotten, three friends, Abeni, Ida, and Soweto, unknowingly embark on an Afro-surreal journey over the summer that will change not only their lives, but the lives of all whom they share so much with. What begins as a vacation forces them to become familiar with their past in order to have a direct influence on the future. Under the guidance of an unforeseen force, strange things begin to happen that bring them closer to uncovering truths and taking them to a place that they and others never thought they would see.

In a not so distant and very near dystopian future where black history has been all but forgotten, three friends, Abeni, Ida, and Soweto, unknowingly embark on an Afro-surreal journey over the summer...


A Note From the Publisher

Pending Publisher's Weekly and NYT reviews currently

Selected as an Editor's Pick in Kirkus Reviews June 2024 Issue
Selected as an Editor's Pick in Publisher's Weekly June 2024 Issue

Pending Publisher's Weekly and NYT reviews currently

Selected as an Editor's Pick in Kirkus Reviews June 2024 Issue
Selected as an Editor's Pick in Publisher's Weekly June...


Advance Praise

In bin Vilio’s novel, three Black women encounter spirits during a road trip just before the nation descends into chaos.

Ida Bridges and her friends Soweto and Abeni have come of age in a racist America, struggling to assert their identities. Ida was found as a baby amid the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and she was adopted by a white mother and a Black father. Her skin is affected by vitiligo, and she lost her hearing during the storm. Years later, when Ida is in college, her mother gives her and her friends a copy of the Safe Negro Travel Guide, which assisted Black travelers in the Jim Crow–era South, and she urges them to take a road trip of their own. As the journey unfolds, ghostly apparitions of men and women greet the young women with the words “Black, Girl, Chosen” in Black American Sign Language. When the friends’ lives are in danger, these same mysterious figures rescue them; soon, the trio realize that Ida is the “Chosen” one. Meanwhile, as the apparitions appear to other Black men and women throughout the country, law enforcement starts rounding people up and quarantining them with alleged “acute African psychosis syndrome.” This compelling and unpredictable novel features strong characters and a nuanced presentation of modern racial discrimination. Bin Vilio guides readers through an alternate America in which the victims of oppression effectively make their presence known, rising from the water in a powerful symbol of both birth and erasure. Readers will find this work informative and haunting as it speaks to the power of remembering the past and hearing its plea for a true and enduring justice.

A brave and affecting story of resilience. - Kirkus Reviews

TO BE FEATURED IN JUNE 2024 KIRKUS REVIEWS MAGAZINE ISSUE AS AN EDITORIAL SUGGESTED READ!!

BookLife Book Review

This urgent debut imagines a dystopian (very) near-future shaped and haunted by racial injustices of the American past and present, as bin Vilio spins a surprising and incisive story about vengeance, history, spirits, retribution, connection, and systemic oppression. Twenty-something best friends Ida, Soweto, and Abeni set off on their annual vacation, blowing off some steam from their hectic college careers—and stoking some drama among their parents. As the young women roadtrip, their African ancestors send a message neither they nor the world can ignore: those that history has been engineered to erase rise from the watery depths in which they perished with a reminder of broken promises and what is owed.


While the stakes could not be higher, bin Vilio roots the novel in the compelling lived experience of his leads. Ida is partially deaf and has vitiligo, the rare skin condition; Black and adopted by a mixed-race couple, she has always felt out of place. Her sisterhood with Soweto and Abeni, plus the love of her professor parents, are all she can count on, even before they find themselves facing ghosts and, eventually, the government’s totalitarian overreach. Into that potent study of three Black women’s journeys bin Vilio deftly incorporates history, rousing voices from the past, “chosen one” elements edged with cultural critique, and depictions of authoritarian terror that all-too-convincingly suggest contemporary politics.


Especially powerful is the women’s bearing witness to what they previously knew from historical accounts. “It was then that the dominating sentiment being sadness stopped,” bin Vilio writes. “Fear came to the fore and took a firm stake.” And then, following fear: action, though what that will actually look like is a matter for readers to discover. Promised Land is about learning one's past and taking back one's power, with three educated, resourceful young women standing on the strength of their knowledge, their family lineage, and the protection of their ancestors.


Takeaway: Three Black women’s powerful trip through a near-future America with ghosts of the past.


Comparable Titles: Tochi Onyebuchi’s Riot Baby; LaTanya McQueen's When the Reckoning Comes.


Production grades

Cover: A-

Design and typography: A

Illustrations: N/A

Editing: A

Marketing copy: A


Independent Book Review 

Promised Land: The Encoding

By Katib bin Vilio 

Genre: Literary Fiction / Black & African American

Reviewed by Erica Ball

In a bleak dystopia, a series of otherworldly 

events trigger a racial reckoning in the 

American South.

Three exceptional women are thrust into the national 

spotlight when a series of bizarre events occur in the 

first of this planned series: Promised Land: The 

Encoding. 

Ida, Soweto, and Abeni share a lifelong unshakeable 

bond, and they exhibit a clear strength of character and 

intellect. But they all hail from different backgrounds, and each is in her way 

reflective of a personality honed by their own aspect of the experience of Black 

Americans. 

In this near future, learning the history of slavery in the US is outlawed, so the young 

women embark on a road trip to become better acquainted with what they’ve been 

denied. This coincides with the beginning of terrifying phenomena occurring, the 

cause of which only Black people can see. 

It is immediately obvious to the friends that what is happening is directly connected to 

specific historical events as well as larger-scale atrocities committed on Black people 

throughout US history. Through a series of scenes you could find in horror movies, 

they uncover more about themselves, their families, their communities, and their 

country. Their unpredictable path ends with them pushed into roles they never would 

have expected, but for which they are nevertheless well suited.

Captivating horror scenes mix with poignant reflections on the contradictions of racial 

history in the US in Promised Land. The plot is steeped in both American history and 

African spirituality; there is a consistent undercurrent of faith and religion throughout. This is perfectly in sync with the undercurrent of the same found throughout stories of 

those living through such conditions and such times. There is ever present the dream 

of a possible time and place of peace, even among inhumane and unjust suffering. 

Promised Land would be a great choice for those looking for compelling stories of the 

under-represented experiences of Black Muslim women. It is a good opportunity to 

spend more time in understanding intersectionality and the complexities within the 

many communities that identify as Black & African American. Each person is a 

mixture of their family’s unique story, their birthplace, their religion, and so much 

more—this novel a shining testament to that.

This story offers an unflinching look at how societies and governments react in times 

of uncertainty and fear and how such times bring festering issues into the light. Times 

like these make what’s unspoken spoken or, at the very least, much harder to ignore. It 

embraces parts of American history that some would prefer were overlooked and 

reaffirms that we can only hope to shape the future when we understand the past. 

The novel forces a reckoning with personal pasts that tie intrinsically to the larger 

stories of specific communities—a smart fictional blueprint for the reckoning of 

historic wrongs, seeking to answer the question: What might it take to trigger actual 

meaningful change for Black communities?

In bin Vilio’s novel, three Black women encounter spirits during a road trip just before the nation descends into chaos.

Ida Bridges and her friends Soweto and Abeni have come of age in a racist...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9798822941434
PRICE $15.99 (USD)
PAGES 272

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Featured Reviews

This was a great start to the Promised Land series, it did a great job in bringing this world to life and the characters were wonderfully done. Katib bin Vilio does a great job in writing this and left me wanting to read more this series.

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This book is a thought-provoking and immersive Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I really enjoyed that the narrative is immersed in a group of characters that gained knowledge about identity, belief, and the nature of their reality. I will say that for me there were moments where the plot felt heavy and overly complex, but not enough to make me put the book down. The pacing of this book was well-executed with just the right balance of action, suspense, and introspection to keep us (the reader) engaged. What truly sets this book apart from any other is the tackling the most weighty subjects with intelligence and sensitivity, inviting us to ponder on the deepest questions alongside the characters. This one l will stay with me for a long time and with such an unforgettable reading experience I will re-read it time and time again. I would highly recommend this book TO EVERYONE!!!

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