Afrofuturism has become one of the most vibrant and exciting branches of modern science fiction and fantasy. Recent major novels include Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts, Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon and Who Fears Death, N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, and many others.
The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion is a near-future dystopia based on the life of Frederick Douglass, and it looks like a worthy addition to an exciting sub-genre. It arrives next month from Titan Books, and a starred review from Publishers Weekly calls it “a gut-punch Afrofuturist novel.”
Gomillion debuts with a gut-punch Afrofuturist novel that examines the incalculable damage systemic racism wreaks on individuals and societies, and the many forms liberation can take. Sometime in the future, in the aftermath of WWIII, societies enforce peace through rigidly controlled racial hierarchies. That control includes using medication to erase the memories of the less privileged. Born in the remnants of America, Arika Cobane inhabits the upper echelons of the race of dark-skinned laborers known as the Kongo, trained by her white teachers to be a record keeper and write false histories that reinforce social norms. As rumors spread of rebels challenging the state’s authority, a new Kongo student, Hosea Khan, enters Arika’s class, shocking her by openly questioning the violence committed against the Kongo people… This intellectually rich, emotional, and ruthlessly honest confrontation of racism proves Gomillion is a critically important new voice.
The Record Keeper will be published by Titan Books on June 18, 2019. It is 457 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover artist is uncredited.