What does it mean to live in a place that you feel dispossessed by? Ask any Black person living in the South, and they're sure to have an answer.
Here's how "My Monticello" author Jocelyn Nicole Johnson put it: "There's this way in which I feel a distance from Virginia. There's this way in which I feel like, 'Yes, this is my home,' but there's this undercurrent of, 'Do you belong here?' or 'How do you belong here?' or 'How is this your home?' And I think that could be anywhere in America, but certainly my experience was here in Virginia."
Johnson begins her debut short story collection with "Control Negro," a searing sci-fi piece detailing the ways in which a Black father has turned his own son into an experiment set on proving—for certain—how embedded racism is in our nation.
This story alone is worth buying the whole book, but if you want to dive right in, you can read "Control Negro" in full on Guernica, where it was first published in 2017 before making its way into Johnson's debut.
At our virtual jubilee on December 16, we'll dive deep on that feeling of being the outside insider and more in a conversation between Johnson and Scalawag Race & Place Editor Ko Bragg about "My Monticello." Here's a sneak preview. If you like what you see, RSVP to join us here or at the form below.
From climate change to what it means to perceive history through the white gaze, this interview isn't one you'll want to miss. Through fiction that reads like reality, Johnson is "pushing the idea of scale with the idea of collapse with the idea of things not working." If you're anything like her, you might even find some "catharsis in writing your worst fears with a little bit of humor."
While you're here, go ahead and get a copy of "My Monticello" for all the Southern book lovers on your list from our BookShop Affiliate page, where 10 percent of your purchase supports our nonprofit newsroom.
See you December 16!
Part book club, part kiki and allllll Southern, we're putting on a party to celebrate some of the year's best reads.RSVP today.