28 Days of Literary Blackness With VSB | Day 12: How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin

Image: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month (Hachette Book Group

Publisher Synopsis: N. K. Jemisin is one of the most powerful and acclaimed authors of our time. In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.

Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.

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I’m taking a chance here since I’ve not actually read this book. But here’s why I’m taking a chance here: For our VSB/Mahogany Books Book Club, one of the books we read was the Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves anthology curated by Glory Edim, founder of Well-Read Black Girl. One of the essays was written by N.K. Jemisin, who I’d heard of only because I’d seen the title of her book, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?, in book stores, and I LOVE it as a title.

When I tell you that her essay in the anthology, “Dreaming Awake,” had me at hello!?

It starts out like this:

Long ago, in the time before now, black people were kings and queens.

This is not true.

There is a strange emptiness to a life without myths.

I am African American—by which I mean, a descendant of slaves, rather than a descendant of immigrants who came here willingly and with lives more or less intact. My ancestors were the unwilling, unintact ones: children torn from parents, parents torn from elders, people torn from roots, stories torn from language. Past a certain point, my family’s history just...stops. As if there was nothing there.

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I basically perked up and decided right then and there that this woman was about to be one of my new favorite writers. I devoured her essay, and you should read her whole essay because, well, trust me, I’m a blogger. Turns out she’s an award-winning science fiction writer with trilogies and series and all the things that we all should read and How Long ‘Til Black Future Month is a collection of short stories. I’m all in. I’m sold. I will read her science fiction books for which she’s won a specific award for like three years in a row, which I don’t think anybody else has ever done. Point is, it’s funny how one verse can mess up the game, and with one essay, N.K. Jemisin is somebody who I determined I needed on my bookshelf because my book shelf was missing her and this is the book I will enter that journey with.

Also, everybody who does read her raves about her writing.

Her essay ends with:

In the future, as in the present, as in the past, black people will build many new worlds.

This is true. I will make it so. And you will help me.

I’ll be damned if she ain’t right.

How Long ‘til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

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About the author

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.