The World Doesn’t Require You

Rion Amilcar Scott. Liveright, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-63149-538-0
In 11 stories and a novella, Scott returns to the setting of his debut collection, Insurrections: fictional Cross River, Md., which, in an alternate history, is the location of the only successful slave revolt in America. Most stories are set in the present day; the prose is energetic and at times humorous—often uncomfortably so—as stories interrogate racist tropes. “The Electric Joy of Service” and “Mercury in Retrograde” recast the history of master, slave, and revolt in stories about intelligent robots designed with the facial features of lawn jockeys that fail to behave as programmed. In “David Sherman, the Last Son of God,” David, the last (and least exalted) son of God, tries to redeem himself by leading a gospel band at his elder brother’s church. And in the concluding novella, “Special Topics in Loneliness Studies,” set at Cross River’s historically black Freedman’s University, the narrator plots the downfall of his departmental colleague, whose course syllabus and writing assignments grow increasingly entangled with his personal life. Throughout, the characters’ experiences contrast the relative safety of Cross River with the more hostile ground of the once-segregated towns that surround it. It’s clear, however, that threats—whether they’re siren-like water-women, academic saboteurs, or brutal family traditions—can arise anywhere. Scott’s bold and often outlandish imagination makes for stories that may be difficult to define, but whose emotional authenticity is never once in doubt. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/04/2019
Release date: 08/20/2019
Genre: Fiction
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