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Put Some Nonfiction In That Fiction ASAP!

Nnedi Okorafor has a new book out — Who Fears Death — which Karnithia will tell you is amazing. I may force her to post more about it later. But first I wanted to point to the most recent entry on Nnedi’s blog where she talks about her first book signing and the reactions she encountered from some members of the audience.

…during the question and answer portion of it, I was basically accosted by ironically my own people, African academics (who had NOT read the book).

Apparently, it’s a no no to mix African cultures in a future Africa. When I reiterated that Who Fears Death is a mix of traditional African Lit, science fiction, and fantasy of a magical realist persuasion, there was more harrumphing and scowling.

Oh and I’m supposed write a female circumcision scene that happens in the future exactly like how it would happen in the present. I must write “nonfiction fiction” instead of “realism-inspired/realism-infused/haunted fiction”.

I call shenanigans on that. While I understand the need for fiction that represents Africa today in a way that is not sketchy or from a colonial perspective and whatnot, that is not a requirement of writers who write speculative fiction. Having a strong basis in what is does not mean that they always have to write “nonfiction fiction” as Nnedi puts it. Arg, such viewpoints bug me.

And it seems to me that it’s usually writers of color who are herded into writing this kind of fiction. Am I off in thinking so?

Anyway, go read the whole entry, as it is very thought-provoking.

One thought on “Put Some Nonfiction In That Fiction ASAP!”

  1. TLW says:

    It’s this type of divisive attitude that will keep African and African-American speculative fiction, fantasy and sci-fi as a fringe genre that will never get the mainstream respect it deserves. This is so parallel to most issues confronting Afric peoples.

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