Summer Book Bingo: Afrofuturism
April 30, 2020
Due to popular demand, 2020 Summer Book Bingo, our free summer reading program with The Seattle Public Library, has begun early this year! Download your card here. Start your summer reading early and aim for bingo or blackout for a chance to win fabulous prizes. Engage with others around your reading adventure with the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media.
Our next category reveal is Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. The term was coined around twenty-five years ago by a white author and cultural critic, Mark Dery, in an essay about speculative fiction within the African diaspora, titled “Black to the Future,” which looks at black speculative fiction and draws its observations from interviews with black content creators. Below, WITS Program Coordinator Bre’Anna Girdy—a long-time fan of the genre—gives us four suggestions for this square.
By Bre’Anna Girdy, WITS Program Coordinator
My love of Afrofuturism didn’t start with my English degree, where I studied it in various courses. It started with George Clinton blasting through our old, Grand-Am speakers as my mom drove me to school every morning. It wasn’t uncommon for me to come home, that same day, to my uncle trailing Outkast lyrics behind him throughout the house. His daughter is named after Eykah Badu, my aunt swears by every Jimi Hendrix track, and Janelle Monae was always on repeat. Needless to say, Afrofuturism dominates my Spotify playlists.
Now, however, my attention has shifted. My first interaction with an Afrofuturist novel was in my “Black Speculative Fiction” class. Every week, we read a new novel, and every week, I had a new book I absolutely loved. After graduation, I picked up right where the class left off, and I started curating a selection of my own. Now I have everything between fiction and non-fiction, novels and collections; I even have comic books!
Here are a few suggestions I have that’ll help you along on your bingo journey, and hopefully make you an avid Afrofuturist fan!
Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture
I really like knowing what a genre is about, especially if I haven’t really encountered it before. Ytasha Womack is an Afrofuturist herself, and she really takes the time to dive into the philosophy itself. She couples contemporary examples with the African and Egyptian myths within which the philosophy is rooted. This is a fantastic book to read if you want a look into the foundations of the genre, and the way it has evolved since.
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
This short story anthology features strange beings, strange events, and even stranger worlds. Everything about this collection is strange, so it’s no surprise that this anthology was compiled in Octavia Butler’s image. The authors drop you in the middle of ongoing worlds but, immediately, you begin to root for characters that are both admirable and extremely human.
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1
If you liked Ryan Coogler’s 2018 Black Panther, then you’ll love this comic book. Coogler was inspired by Coates’ rendition of the Marvel Superhero, but the story is far deeper than the one we’ve seen on screen. Coates questions what it takes to be the leader of a nation as powerful as Wakanda, and he sparks turmoil where T’Challa least expects.
I try not to recommend this title because everyone has heard of it but if you want a taste of what Butler does, this is the book you need to pick up. The pages seem to fly by as Dana, the main character, must accept this new reality she experiences. She struggles with the trauma laced within her own history, and the bonds she forges paints a picture of an otherwise erased history. As she attempts to find her own footing, you, the reader, never do.
Want more Summer Book Bingo suggestions? These category deep-dives from the SAL staff have got us reading and ready: Uplifting, Nature, and On Your Shelf. You can also find more on The Seattle Public Library’s website.