Literary Afrofuturism

This week's review uncovers the history of literary Afrofuturism, examines diasporic elements of the genre, and highlights contemporary texts of today

Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century

ed. by Isiah Lavender III and Lisa Yaszek Ohio State, 2020
264p index, 9780814255964 $34.95, 9780814278154

Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century book cover.

Afrofuturism has exploded visibly onto the cultural scene in recent years (though it has been around for much longer), and it stands to reason that scholarly assessments of this field would follow. This collection stands out for its respected editors, who are both top-notch scholars in the field, and for its breadth of focus. Lavender (Univ. of Georgia) and Yaszek (Georgia Tech) have compiled an impressive list of contributors in developing this important conversation about literary Afrofuturism, and they open the book with a roundtable discussion of genre by such top practitioners in the field such as N. K. Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, and Minister Faust. The essays discuss contemporary Afrofuturist texts ranging across the Black Atlantic, thus encompassing the genre’s diasporic vision. The contributors challenge a present-time ideal of Afrofuturism by revealing the genre’s long history, which dates back to Phillis Wheatley and forward to Janelle Monáe and Black Panther; by recovering authors such as John M. Faucette and Amos Tutuola; and by articulating the connections between Black speculative literature and African diasporic culture across time. This book is an important addition to the conversations on Afrofuturism and its necessary place in literary studies and African American studies.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
D. E. Magill, Longwood University
Interdisciplinary Subjects: African and African American Studies, Racial Justice
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Jun 2021

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