Lately I’ve been reading an awful lot of Afro-Fantasy. And frankly loves it’s made me wonder where it’s been all my life. (There obviously, just not on my radar).
My top authors of choice at the moment are N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor and Tomi Adeyemi. From N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award winning Broken Earth trilogy, to Nnedi Okorafor’s extraordinary Who Fears Death and Tomi Adeyemi’s frankly stunning Children of Blood and Bone, these authors have opened up incredible worlds to me over the last two years. If you haven’t already gotten your hands on these, I highly recommend them.
I live in awe and gratitude at their immense literary shadows.
I thought they had ruined me - truly - for other voices. Until that is I came across Hafsah Faizal’s upcoming book We Hunt the Flame (coming out May 2019) and I can feel another reading journey coming from a mile off you guys. (I can’t wait).
What’s really standing out at the moment though - as publishers get wise to the rich, deep stories dying to be told by diverse voices - is how bereft my literary world would be if they hadn’t been given a platform. They have opened my mind, introduced me to new story vistas, and above all resonated with emotional truth. They speak both to the diversity and commonality of human experience - the way all the best stories do.
I’m like a kid playing in a much bigger playground than I knew was there. (I know, I’m very late to the game).
What’s also hit home for me - as I’ve exposed myself to and been exposed to a multitude of voices - is exactly why it’s wrong for me as a creator to stumble into writing about other cultures myself without first doing an awful lot of homework, and hell of a lot of soul-searching and engaging sensitivity readers.
It’s not about censorship. It’s about being a better storyteller. It’s also about amplifying the stories and voices of those who have long been over-looked.
To write true things, we first need true understanding.
Today I’m thinking about and thanking all these amazing storytellers who have entered my life and opened up my eyes and my world.