* Author: anika (Writeblack.com) * Filed under: check it out, new, paranormal, sci-fi/speculative/fantasy
"An article about Afro-surrealism at the San Francisco Black Film Festival piqued my interest:
Per the article, Afro-surrealism is not Afrofuturism, but:
Afro-surrealism is about the present. In sound it conjures everything from Sun-Ra to Wu-Tang. In speech, it brings you Henry Dumas, Amie [sic] Cesaire, Samuel Delaney [sic], and Darius James. In visual realms, the Afro-surreal ranges from Wifredo Lam to Kara Walker to Trenton Doyle Hancock.
That stumped me for a minute. At first, I thought this would be just another descriptive term that could be applied to something like speculative fiction, but I wasn’t sure. If Afro-surrealism is about the present, does that mean, say, paranormal works wouldn’t be able to be included — even if they are set in the here and now?
Besides Darius James, whose books I’ve never read, and Samuel Delany, I stumbled trying to come up with living authors whose books would be considered Afro-surrealist but not necessarily, or always, Afro-futurist.
The first authors who come to my mind are the brilliant Nalo Hopkinson, Zakes Mda and Minister Faust.
Can you think of other living authors who might fit into this category?"
To answer Anika's question, I would have to say that Afro-surrealist writers are everywhere!
You may be an Afrosurrealist and not even know it!
It happened to me...
The first time I came across the term was in an introduction to Echo Tree: An Anthology of Henry Dumas' short stories and poetry written by Amiri Baraka :
"The Afro-Surreal Expressionism of Dumas and the others mentioned unfolds the Black Aesthetic—form and content—in its actual contemporary and lived life. MUSIC (drum—polyrhythm,percussive—song as laughter or tears), preacher and congregation, call and response, the frenzy! The color is the polyrhythm, refracted light! But this beauty and revelation have always existed in an historically material world. The African masks are shattered and cubed. Things float and fly. Darkness defines more than light. Even in the flow of plot, there are excursions and multi-layered ambiguities. As with Bearden (Romare), Dumas's is a world in which the broken glide by in search of the healing element, or are tragically oblivious to it."
(Hit book for rest of essay)
And I was like, "That's me! I'm AfroSurreal!"
It was like I'd found my kinfolk after wandering a cultural wasteland.
By this definition, there are a lot of writers (and reg'lar folk like you and me) who would call themselves afro-surreal. Upon hearing the term, quite a few of us surely see ourselves in it. Among the writers, for me, Victor LeValle, Colson Whitehead, Ishmael Reed, Paul Beatty, Percival Everett, Jayne Cortez, and Harryette Mullen, are a good start towards an AfroSurreal aesthetic. Working with this definition, are there other writers that you consider Afrosurreal? Artists?