Afrofuturism: Looking to the Future Today

December 19, 2018

Afrofuturism (def): “a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture.”

Originating in the mid to late 1990s, Afrofuturism takes particular care to explore the intersection of African/African Diaspora culture with technology. And if you’re only learning about it now, you have one movie to thank for that: Black Panther. Since that movie came out the interest and attention to Afrofuturism has exploded. Naturally, that can mean only one thing – time to read!

For a lot of librarians, books with Afrofuturism elements in them have existed for a long time, but we often didn’t know what to call them. I’m a children’s librarian and back when I encountered Nancy Farmer’s 1994 novel The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm set in 2194 Zimbabwe, it was wholly new to me. Of course the biggest authors to make use of the genre are Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler, with newer writers joining them, like Nnedi Okorafor, N. K. Jemisin, and Rivers Solomon.

Interested in exploring these books? The time has never been better. Here’s a reading list to help you start. Remember, all of these titles are available at Evanston Public Library. Happy 4eading!

Novels

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany
  • Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
  • My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
  • Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton
  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Everfair by Nisi Shawl
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
  • The Root by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Short Stories

  • Dark Matter: Reading the Bones

Children’s Novels

  • The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer