B. Jelly Clark: “I’m trying to make Lovecraft turn over in his grave”



Dexter Gabriel (New York, 1971) Professor, University of Connecticut Specializes in African American history. What he calls the “Black Atlantic,” communities, such as the Gullahs of North Carolina, who have preserved their African roots and created syncretic cultures, or the Caribbean Creole (her parents come from the island of Trinidad), or slavery and emancipation. Gabriel also, when he prefers to write novels, pays homage to the oral storytellers of the African coasts, Djeli Clark, author of titles that mix fantasy and alternate history. Egypt became a world power at the beginning of the twentieth century thanks to the rediscovery of the magic of the jinn (Lord of the jinnAnd The curse of the fifteenth trampublished by Duermevela), an independent New Orleans from the United States thanks to the power of the Orishas (Black God Drumsin Obscura) and a fight between some ancestors of the Black Panthers and the Lovecraftian monsters that hide behind the KKK and The birth of a nation (Hooray ringing, also in Obscura, and, in Catalan, in My Mes). and even more: On his blog is a disgruntled Haradrim, The indignant Haradrim, alluding to the guilty annoyance any black-skinned person could feel at such classics of European fantasy as Tolkien. So it’s hard to know where to begin with him: this is an exuberant conversation in the middle of the Celsius festival in Aviles, which first brought him to Spain.

Q: Not to mention how many elements come into play in your imagination, you are already navigating a sea of ​​massive cultural exchange in your academic work.

R was found. Where large numbers of slaves arrived, they preserved their languages ​​and culture for longer, as in the Carolinas, though they adopted aspects of Christianity and the English language. Or in Brazil, where the religion is largely preserved and interacts with the Portuguese language. But we must remember that everyone across the Atlantic has created new cultures. Jazz was created by people of African descent by mixing elements from different African but also European cultures. Like salsa, samba, reggae, merengue or calypso.

Q: There are historians who hate alternative history that presents different scenarios depending on the question If?. And if Napoleon wins at Waterloo & mldr; You use it, but overtly in the form of a fictional fantasy.

R was found. Yes, I had teachers who hated what if. I partly agree with them, this is not history, it’s fiction. History only happened in one direction. It is impossible to know what would have changed by modifying just one element, the possibilities are endless. But it is a creative exercise that allows us to think more about our history. Asking what would have happened if the Nazis had won helps us to remember and better understand how dangerous fascism was for humanity.

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s What if toOr delve into their stories Egyptwhere material progression is made through a return Jinn to the real world leads, among other things, to a suffrage spree.

R was found. Yes, I wonder what this society would be like if the anti-colonial movements had succeeded so soon. What will post-colonial societies look like? If magic was the power of development rather than strength, what would have happened? This brings us to the real story. There was a movement for women’s rights in Cairo in the early 1920s, and I’m taking it a step further, but those tearing the headscarves at the train stations, also pioneers of the resistance against the British, were real. The investigator in my novels is named Fatima Al Shaarawy, in honor of the pioneer of the Egyptian feminist movement. What I do is challenge those who don’t think this can happen in that part of the world. There are people who don’t find it credible that my character wears a men’s suit and bowler hat, of course because of that culture, religion & mldr; But there are pictures of women who did it in 1900! Sometimes history is stranger than fiction.

Q: May we call you Evil Djinn?

R was found. Funny how we got there. When I was studying, I was given reading Orientalism Edward Said, or I will show my students the film Battle of Algiers From Pontecorvo, and when we explained colonialism we ended up talking about how the Maxim machine gun was the weapon that allowed the British to invade Africa. Industrialization allowed them, the French, the Germans, to take over the world. I tried to imagine a force that could overcome her, and I thought magic. Yes djinn punk will work. And once you start to think about how to change that in people’s minds …

Q: In addition to the right to vote, the new Pharaonic architecture shows that the old religion is resurfacing, and that the Mahdists in Sudan are exhausting the Marxists ideologically…

R was found. I thought about how people’s view of reality and their religion affected seeing these magical powers come true. The cradles and manager. Yes, I wanted to laugh a bit with them, at university I met many people like that, as it is true that if you put two Marxists in a room, four different and also conflicting ideologies will come out.

Q: But let’s leave the story behind. He wrote detective stories at the same time. Or even Agatha Christie-style detectives.

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R was found. Yes, alternate history is the world I build. The plot is detective, it is she who advances the story. But yeah, I like to play with the former and I have to remember that the reader has to be familiar with the characters, to figure out what’s going on. And that world building You must help her.

Q: Speaking of world building. You have three worlds created when other authors only think of one. Will you go deeper into some of them or continue to open more doors?

R was found. I always want to leave the door open to get back at them. A jinn in Cairo It was only intended as a short story with no continuity but people loved it and asked for more. Among the books I have prepared there is a book for teenagers that will be like it The hobbit But in West Africa and mldr;

Q: Four Worlds Go …

R was found. And in 2024 I will publish another short novel titled dead cat tail killers, A cross between John Wick and Dungeons and Dragons.

Q: Five! His last book published in Spain is Black God Drums.

R was found. Yes, New Orleans is less on the mainland than it is in the Caribbean, and more associated with Martinique or Haiti; This is what New Orleans was like before it became part of the United States. I had always wanted to create a story that had the Haitian Revolution at its center, so I wrote a novel in which it worked and the whole landscape in the Caribbean changed. If Haiti were the dominant power in the Caribbean, wouldn’t the African religion be as well? This is why I took a royal order from black nuns and mulatto Catholics and made them also believe in Orisha. Everyone loves these nuns!

s. And Hooray ringing He’s using the mythology of someone as hateful a racist as Lovecraft. Is he doing it for revenge?

R was found. Yes, he was a terrible person. But of course, we all love claws. Brutal creatures that terrify us. But he hates everyone, including Jews, Spaniards, and Italians, and much of his terror of the dark and the unknown reflects his hatred of foreigners. It’s not that kind of stuff you can forgive your grandfather for being old-fashioned, he was a Hitler fan. So yeah, like other African American or Latino authors, we use his cosmic dread against him. To make him roll in his grave.

Q: Do you feel part of a broad movement, say, for decolonization of the fantasy genre?

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R was found. It’s a genre we love, we grew up reading and watching fantasy and sci-fi. But we haven’t seen people like us in it. That’s why we want to do it right, bringing fresh perspectives and ideas. Yes, I am part of this. Because the genre has always been political, even though people are now saying they don’t want politics in their science fiction or fantasy. Perhaps the first anti-colonial story in science fiction war of the worldsWhat happens when another colonial power arrives? Star Trek It’s very political. star Wars It’s literally about fighting the Nazis in space. Frankenstein talks about human nature and industrialization. Zombies, out of fear what pollution can do to us.

Q: The diversity you claim is not just racial.

R was found. When black letters appeared in game of thrones. There were angry people. But hey, if there are dragons, can’t there be black characters? The same thing happens with the incorporation of LGTBI characters, sexual diversity has always been here in reality, and it’s very strange to create fantasy worlds without it. In my books, I just want them to be part of the story.

Q: The name of your blog justifies the men of the south whom Tolkien associated with evil …

R was found. Yes, in it light and good are associated with white, and darkness with evil. There are black men, troll demigods, and monsters who are not human. I love Tolkien’s books. But I can’t help but see that, it’s a love-hate relationship. It is also true that those who have studied him will remember that he was a linguist, who tried to reflect the medieval world, including his Islamophobia, and in fact was not a fascist at all, he refused to let the Nazis use it. The hobbit. But they found it interesting and thought it could be used as a white supremacist motif to mean something, right? Something similar happens with the female role. in The wheel of time Written by Robert Jordan, the female characters are strong, many of them gayI did that in the 80’s and 90’s.

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Q: But they always end up with a flogged behind. Jordan looks like a fetishist beating.

R was found. When I read it as a teenager I didn’t realize it! But these strong women always end up skinny, and they always cross their arms over their chests. These ancient writers are capable of being far ahead in some things and lagging behind in others. I think, how will a woman read such books? I love that, wow, that hated … As a writer, I always try to do better.

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