cover image Global Dystopias

Global Dystopias

Edited by Junot Díaz. Boston Review, $19.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-94651

Edited by Pulitzer-winner Díaz, this uneven anthology confuses the difference between a dystopia and an apocalyptic event while exploring alarming possible futures. Deep currents of misogyny run through much of the collection, as female characters are murdered, tortured, sexually assaulted, and infantilized with few consequences for the men who perpetrate these outrages. Many of the actual dystopias include skewed ideas about what constitutes acceptable womanhood, pregnancy, and birth. Fortunately, some of the best contributions, many of them by women, include nuanced examinations of gender-based oppression. In Charlie Jane Anders’s astoundingly good “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue,” the narrator is forced by the government into a body she doesn’t want and didn’t ask for. Maria Dahvana Headley’s “Memoirs of an Imaginary Country” explores the connection between the colonization of women’s bodies and colonization of non-Western countries. Tananarive Due’s “The Reformatory” reveals a single moment of horrific abuse in a young black boy’s difficult life. Maureen McHugh’s “Cannibal Acts” and Nalo Hopkinson’s “Waving at Trains” are both excellent stories of viral apocalypses and their aftermath. Despite these standout works, the frequent shifts in tone and quality will make it hard for this anthology to find an audience. (Nov.)