The BLM has also inspired the arts (film, literature, and journalism) like the Civil Rights Movement did in the 1950s and 60s. Author N.K Jemisin’s new book is a prime example of a social movement influencing literature in modern times.
The Fifth Season is the first of The Broken Earth series of books written by Jemisin. It follows a group of sorcerers in a world that is plagued with uncontrollable and intense natural disasters. These sorcerers,known as orogenes, can control volcanoes and seismic activity but the people of the fantasy world have oppressed them out of fear because of the power they possess.
“This novel is, in a lot of ways, my processing the systemic racism that I live with, and see, and am trying to come to terms with,” Jemisin said in an interview with Wired.
The book also makes interesting points about respectability politics in regards to oppressed people.
“One of the ways in which the orogenes were kept in line was that they are told repeatedly that if you act right, if you are respectable enough, then you won’t be hurt,” says Jemisin. “And it’s a lie. It’s always a lie when you hear that kind of thing.”
Orgenes discover the hard way that assimilation has its limitations.
Jemisin is known for pushing the boundaries in the fantasy genre. Her books which include, The Killing Moon (2012) and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010) among others, stars people of color. Some of the books are set in historically Black civilizations that goes counter to the European- inspired settings of most classic fantasy tales.
Jemisin’s drive for diversity has forced her publishers to embrace characters of color in the mainly white and male dominated world of fantasy. She also challenged many to think about why Black casts in fantasy would turn off the traditional fantasy reader. This new book does not shy away at looking at the real world with a critical eye and asking readers to be reflective and contemplative about racial issues.
The Fifth Season, which continues Jemisin’s dedication to racial diversity in fantasy, is currently available for purchase.