The Windup Girl

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Book cover of The Windup Girl

Book description


The Windup Girl is the ground-breaking and visionary modern classic that swept the board for every major science fiction award it its year of publication.

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under…

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. (learn more)

Why read it?

4 authors picked The Windup Girl as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

What makes great worldbuilding, as opposed to just good worldbuilding? It’s hard to define, but the world should feel complex but not confusing, different but still relatable, and drive the story the author wants to tell. The Windup Girl remains my ultimate blueprint for how to get it right in my own novels. This novel follows several characters in 23rd Century Thailand that includes a refugee, an economic hitman, a well-meaning law enforcement officer, and a genetically-modified, synthetic human named Emiko. Climate change is a big theme and forms the basis for how the characters operate and survive in…

Paolo Bacigalupi is a creator of worlds. I love a good world. While I really would like to avoid the world he’s predicting, I can’t help but be amazed by his craftsmanship.

But what I enjoy most is that he manages to write about a genetically engineered sex worker with his “male gaze” checked firmly at the door. His story focuses instead on the hopelessness of being controlled right down the patent on your engineered chromosomes, and the hope of escape. In doing that he gives the reader a real opportunity to empathize with a good many marginalized people in…

From David's list on dystopian novels about the underdog.

Bacigalupi’s dystopian thriller draws a fascinating picture of a future Bangkok threatened by climate change and rising sea levels at the heart of a thrilling mystery. Anderson Lake, an American agro-business rep, teams up with the Windup Girl, Emiko, an engineered sex slave designed for wealthy Japanese who’s been abandoned on the streets of Bangkok, as he searches for the world’s last food bank amidst beautifully observed Southeast Asian cultural oddities and local politics, while bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. 

Imagine the teeming, dense city of Bangkok thrown into a future time. It’s inhabited by a corporate spy in search of food substances thought to have gone extinct. Another character, the windup girl in the title, is a bio-engineered human created to answer the decadent needs of Kyoto men. Emiko, as she’s known, is abandoned on the streets of the Thai city and longs to reside in one of the villages where people like herself can live independently.

Windup Girl has lots of characters. Their agendas interlock in various ways. According to some of the reviews I’ve read, that is…

From Janet's list on novels that wonder about the future.

Want books like The Windup Girl?

Our community of 6,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like The Windup Girl.

Browse books like The Windup Girl

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Thailand, Bangkok, and worldbuilding?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Thailand, Bangkok, and worldbuilding.

Thailand Explore 27 books about Thailand
Bangkok Explore 10 books about Bangkok
Worldbuilding Explore 76 books about worldbuilding