Summary and book reviews of The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott

The World Doesn't Require You

by Rion Amilcar Scott

The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott X
The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2020, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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About this Book

Book Summary

The World Doesn't Require You announces the arrival of a generational talent, as Rion Amilcar Scott shatters rigid genre lines to explore larger themes of religion, violence, and love - all told with sly humor and a dash of magical realism.

Established by the leaders of the country's only successful slave revolt in the mid-nineteenth century, Cross River still evokes the fierce rhythms of its founding. In lyrical prose and singular dialect, a saga beats forward that echoes the fables carried down for generations―like the screecher birds who swoop down for their periodic sacrifice, and the water women who lure men to wet deaths.

Among its residents―wildly spanning decades, perspectives, and species―are David Sherman, a struggling musician who just happens to be God's last son; Tyrone, a ruthless PhD candidate, whose dissertation about a childhood game ignites mayhem in the neighboring, once-segregated town of Port Yooga; and Jim, an all-too-obedient robot who serves his Master. As the book builds to its finish with "Special Topics in Loneliness Studies", a fully-realized novella, two unhinged professors grapple with hugely different ambitions, and the reader comes to appreciate the intricacy of the world Scott has created―one where fantasy and reality are eternally at war.

Contemporary and essential, The World Doesn't Require You is a "leap into a blazing new level of brilliance" (Lauren Groff) that affirms Rion Amilcar Scott as a writer whose storytelling gifts the world very much requires.

The Electric Joy of Service

The Master's divorce became official the day following Independence Day. This is the first of the small ironies that I learned, over time, to appreciate. I wasn't around until the day following Insurrection Day the next year. My inner workings were so rudimentary then that I didn't understand much.

The Master used to bang about in his workshop. Little Nigger Jim, he'd say. Don't let me catch you trusting a woman.

If the Master had been a whole person, capable of giving and receiving love, he never would have sought to create me. I was born of his desire to be free of the small sense- dulling tasks of daily necessity. With his wife no longer there to complete those tasks, the Master had to manufacture someone to carry them out.

The week of my birth, the sky burned with fireworks set off by revelers celebrating the anniversary of the slave revolt that freed their ancestors. The loud sound caused a jitter in my system that I passed on to later models. When ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The World Doesn't Require You is that rare short story collection – a unified work in which stories interweave and each successive chapter sheds light and adds deeper contexts of meaning to what came before. Once you reach the twists and turns of its climactic pages, you'll want to flip back to the beginning and read it all over again...continued

Full Review (835 words).

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(Reviewed by Dean Muscat).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
These stories range from satire (“The Electric Joy of Service”) to fantasy (“Numbers”) to horror (“Rolling in My Six-Fo’?”) and not one of them strikes a false note. There are angry notes. Even, perhaps, hostile ones. But none that are unwarranted. A few readers may be shocked by Scott’s use of cultural epithets, but those are far from unnecessary. We have so far to go and so little time to get there, Scott seems to say. Maybe spending a few hours in Cross River will help build a bridge. Or blow one up, if need be.

NPR
The book is less a collection of short stories than it is an ethereal atlas of a world that's both wholly original and disturbingly familiar; Scott proves to be immensely talented at conjuring an alternate reality that looks like an amplified version of our own. Bizarre, tender and brilliantly imagined, The World Doesn't Require You isn't just one of the most inventive books of the year, it's also one of the best.

Los Angeles Times
While Scott needs only a few pages to make an impact, he devotes the bulk of The World Doesn’t Require You to the novella-length closer, “Special Topics in Loneliness Studies.” Telling the story of an academic rivalry at Cross River’s historically black Freedman’s University, “Special Topics” at first feels elusive, with a kitchen sink construction of emails, PowerPoint slides, essays and imagined folklore amid an unreliable narration, but it coalesces into an indictment of a patriarchal academic system that diminishes female voices.

Booklist
Reminiscent of classic isolated-world fantasies like The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Kirinyaga (1998)...Scott's imagery and unique voice blend horror, satire, and magical realism into an intoxicating brew.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Scott's bold and often outlandish imagination makes for stories that may be difficult to define, but whose emotional authenticity is never once in doubt.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Mordantly bizarre and trenchantly observant, these stories stake out fresh territory in the nation's literary landscape.

Author Blurb Lauren Groff, author of Florida and Fates and Furies
I've been a fan of Rion Amilcar Scott's for years, but I was astonished by The World Does Not Require You, which seems a leap into a blazing new level of brilliance: it is a wild, restless, deeply intelligent collection of stories, each of which resists and subverts the limits of categorization. What a beautiful book.

Author Blurb Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People
Surreal, intertextual, and darkly comical stories... Rion Amilcar Scott writes in the tradition of George Schuyler and Ishmael Reed but with a distinctive wry, playful voice that is wholly his own. With breathtaking cruelty and devastating humor, Scott adduces the whole world in one community

Author Blurb Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy
Rion Amilcar Scott doesn't hold back or tiptoe around issues about race. He's the most courageous writer I know; and this collection is an excellent example and significant achievement. He's now made his mark as a force to reckon with.

Author Blurb Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman
In the midst of a renaissance of African American fiction, Rion Amilcar Scott's stories stand at the forefront of what's possible in this vanguard. Funny, sad, and always moving, these stories explore what it means to call a place like America home when it treats you with indifference or terror. The people in these stories are unforgettable, their lives recognizable, their voices, as written by Scott, wholly original.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Play of Slave Children

One of the stories in The World Doesn't Require You is inspired by the games of slave children. Given the harsh and miserable social realities forced upon slaves, it almost seems antithetical to think there was opportunity for play and games. However, evidence gathered from interviews with former slaves suggests that many children managed to engage in similar forms of play as free children of the time period.

Corn husk dollSlave children played with dolls, balls and jump ropes, and also engaged in hopscotch and ring games. But since there was no possibility of purchasing toys from stores, children or their parents made their own. Discarded yarn was used to form balls. Corn husks or sticks and rags were used to create dolls. Marbles were made from clay...

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