Nnedi Okorafor speaks
about the complaints people have lodged against her African science fiction novel Who Fears Death
. Variously people are unhappy with the portrayals of Africa, African culture, Africa's future, female characters, the alteration of female genitalia, magic, and assorted other things. Some are unhappy with what Nnedi writes; from the sound of it, some are probably unhappy that
This is what freedom looks like: One woman telling her story whether other people like it or not. Yes, it has some bitter truths in it, but it has sweet ones too. I've been sufficiently intrigued to investigate it at a bookstore, even though I can't afford to buy it yet. The power of the story is plenty noticable even at a glance.
If you're offended by the idea of people dogpiling an author -- from multiple directions, in fact, on the same story -- for writing something important to her, then go poke them in the eye. Buy a copy of Who Fears Death
. That'll show 'em. Enough sales can bring a book to the attention of certain literary awards. For that matter, here is a list of science fiction awards
. If you've read the book and like it, think about which of these it might be eligible for and nominate it if possible or call it to the attention of folks involved in the award.
And to other writers: speak your truth, share your myth, tell your story. Never let anyone stop you. Don't be cruel for the sake of cruelty alone, but don't hesitate to handle challenging or controversial topics. The world is not changed by the timid, nor are great books written by writers who flinch away from the painful scenes. To be a writer is to hold wildfire in your hands and shape it into a crucible; you pour in liquid ideas and effort, and white-hot sculptures come out the other end, dancing in the heat waves. If this is why you are here, then live up to your purpose. Never let anyone stop you