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About Rivers Solomon
RIVERS SOLOMON, a cyborg wannabe and a refugee of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, writes about life in the margins, where they're much at home.
Their work has appeared in or is forthcoming from the New York Times, Guernica Magazine, Black Warrior Review, the Rumpus, Emrys Journal, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. In addition to winning a Firecracker Award and being named a best book of the year by the Guardian, NPR, Chicago Public Library, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, their debut novel AN UNKINDNESS OF GHOSTS was selected as a Stonewall Honor Book and was nominated for a Lambda, Locus, and Hurston/Wright Award.
Solomon graduated from Stanford University with a BA and the Michener Center for Writers with an MFA, but are currently based in Cambridge, England. Solomon has been shortlisted for the John C. Campbell Award for New Writers and is at work on a second novel.
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Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
The Deep is “a tour de force reorientation of the storytelling gaze…a superb, multilayered work,” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and a vividly original and uniquely affecting story inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping.
A triumphant, genre-bending breakout novel from one of the boldest new voices in contemporary fiction
Vern—seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised—flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.
But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.
To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future—outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.
Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
One of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the past decade, selected by NPR
A Best Book of 2017: NPR, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Bustle, Bookish, Barnes & Noble, Chicago Public Library, Book Scrolling.
CLMP Firecracker Award Winner
A Stonewall Book Award Honor Book
Finalist for the 2018 Locus Award, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lambda Literary Award.
Nominated for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Novel
"What Solomon achieves with this debut--the sharpness, the depth, the precision--puts me in mind of a syringe full of stars. I want to say about this book, its only imperfection is that it ended. But that might give the wrong impression: that it is a happy book, a book that makes a body feel good. It is not a happy book. I love it like I love food, I love it for what it did to me, I love it for having made me feel stronger and more sure in a nightmare world, but it is not a happy book. It is an antidote to poison. It is inoculation against pervasive, enduring disease. Like a vaccine, it is briefly painful, leaves a lingering soreness, but armors you from the inside out."
"In Rivers Solomon's highly imaginative sci-fi novel An Unkindness of Ghosts, eccentric Aster was born into slavery on--and is trying to escape from--a brutally segregated spaceship that for generations has been trying to escort the last humans from a dying planet to a Promised Land. When she discovers clues about the circumstances of her mother's death, she also comes closer to disturbing truths about the ship and its journey."
"What Solomon does brilliantly in this novel is in the creation of a society in which dichotomies loom over certain aspects of the narrative, and are eschewed by others...Hearkening back to the past in visions of the future can hold a number of narrative purposes...The past offers us countless nightmares and cautionary tales; so too, I'm afraid, can the array of possible futures lurking up ahead."
"This book is a clear descendent of Octavia Butler's Black science fiction legacy, but grounded in more explicit queerness and neuroatypicality."
"Ghosts are 'the past refusing to be forgot,' says a character in this assured science-fiction debut. That's certainly the case aboard the HSS Matilda, a massive spacecraft arranged along the cruel racial divides of pre-Civil War America."
Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.
Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster.
Yetu guarda en su interior la dolorosa historia de su pueblo, unos seres que viven en las profundidades del océano y que son descendientes de esclavas a las que tiraban por la borda en su travesía hacia el nuevo mundo. Durante la mayor parte del tiempo, su gente vive feliz sin memoria a largo plazo, ajena a su traumático origen. Una vez al año, sin embargo, Yetu debe narrarles su historia para que puedan continuar su idílica existencia. Lo que nadie sospecha es que las consecuencias de esa responsabilidad están a punto de destruirla: la memoria colectiva contiene recuerdos maravillosos, pero también otros dolorosos y aterradores. Desesperada, Yetu intentará escapar de un destino sombrío y lleno de sufrimiento. ¿Podrán Yetu y su pueblo sobrevivir a su huida? ¿Conseguirán reclamar su identidad?
Esta novela, inspirada en hechos reales y en The Deep, una canción del grupo musical clipping, está llena de reflexiones sobre el amor, la pertenencia, la raza y el deber para con una comunidad.