And the winner is (will be… in 2020)… Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.
I predicted it on my blog.
Jemisin won best novel the last three years. We all know the political mess around the Hugo. I haven’t read the book yet, but I bought it right when it came out because it seemed excellent, and I’m sure it is.
My opinion is that it was a case of “killing two birds with one stone”. I suspect Jemisin wouldn’t have won, three years in a row and with a fantasy trilogy, in the usual circumstances, but she happened to be in the right place at the right moment. It was a perfect occasion, to promote and reward a black woman writer matched with a great book. And if the quality is there then there isn’t much to complain. Send a political message while celebrating and promoting diversity.
But if it was the perfect opportunity for Jamisin, this time it looks like the perfect storm. Marlon James is a black, gay man who recently won the Man Booker prize, and now decided to write the “African Game of Thrones”… Airdropped by the likes of Neil Gaiman from the high bastions of literature down to the low and modest fantasy genre, waiting for the messiah to bring the light.
All the reviews I read are gushing with praise to the point they read like parodies, but I have no reason to doubt the book is absolutely excellent and that’s why I bought it right way. And my bet is that this will be Jemisin-2.
But even more funny was the namedropping…
We have African Game of Thrones. Alright. This is also mostly acceptable since it’s Marlon James himself to explain his intent.
Yay! Gaiman namedrops Tolkien! It’s super-effective!
(well, well, to be entirely correct he isn’t comparing this book to Tolkien, but to a Tolkien-like specific feature, that of a well realized and solid worldbuilding.)
That’s a classic, but do you think it stops there?
This is the New York Times, now it’s literary equivalent of the Marvel Universe, just one step away from Middle-Earth.
So, what’s next?
…What is wrong with people?
Alright, this one is the same that goes with Marvel Comics.
Of course it wasn’t enough, better add some more names. I cannot even blame that title, it’s designed to be outrageous for a reason.
But finally we come full circle back to Gaiman, because on the back of the actual book there’s a more complete blurb, and of course he didn’t stop at namedropping the obligatory Tolkien…
I couldn’t find a picture of the backcover and I cannot take it myself right now, but the quote is all over the place.
This is the list of what the book has been associated with:
- Game of Thrones
- Marvel Universe
- Hieronymus Bosch
- Garcia Marquez
- Angela Carter
- Gene Wolfe
- Robert E. Howard
I haven’t really dug into this, it what is shown right away on the Amazon page of the book. I’m pretty sure more can be found.
It’s all quite silly. Taxonomy goes to the slaughterhouse.