Nnedi Okorafor has stolen an irreducible march in the Best Title Ever contest. Who can beat “Who Fears Death” as a title? But more than that, much more, is that Okorafor has shown the way to write fantasy/dystopia that is more than ever a reminder that Truth is way, way stranger than Fiction. If the dystopic Africa of Who Fears Death seems to anyone to be just an imagined, overheated, disjointed, violent and unbalanced society (haha count those modifiers), try reading Emily Wax’s Washington Post article about Sudan and the weaponization of rape. From 2004 on, when we were sitting in our homes and decrying world apathy toward the Sudanese genocide, thousands and thousands of women suffered fates in Sudan equal to if not worse than EVERY scenario of rape and torture that Okorafor evokes in Who Fears Death — I would say creates but then, again, truth is stranger than fiction — in her unforgettable novel Who Fears Death. Onyesonwu, the eponymous protagonist, doesn’t fear death because who fears death after what life shows to be possible in the everyday?
While admittedly — even undeniably — wicked clever and inventive, Monica Byrne’s dystopic novel lacks even a single shelf for a reader to store their emotions. While I understand that this is the condition and peculiarity of postmodernity, the constant shifts in perspective and the fungibility of characters for one another produce mostly a sense of pastiche and not critique (I’m assuming critique was part of authorial intention, if one might for a second be allowed to revive that moribund concept). With the dense semiotic of the elements of the novel being almost impossible to untangle, ultimately making it impossible to identify with anyone or anything, The Girl in the Road obviously a satisfying artifact of postmodernity but affectively draining and cognitively wearying for the reader. The world that Byrne has created is intensely brittle, manipulated, multidimensional and polymorphous, but less focus on the possibilities of pastiche and paranormality and a little more on the meaning and yield even of shifting positions and subjectivities in a compressed time-space would have made the novel more readable and enjoyable.
We’ve understood how it goes. Some of us report it. Some of us don’t. Some of us pay it. Some of us don’t.
How do you live through tax season and tell of it?
There’s only one way. Go vote out those who don’t pay their taxes despite occupying highest office in the USA.
Then return, and tell of it, smiling.