Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora ed by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Aurelia Leo, ebook, £7.67
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Made up of twelve short stories and one poem, Dominion brings together a collection of stories from authors from Africa and the diaspora. Some have been published elsewhere, but this is the first time a collection of speculative fiction of writers from this region has been put together. Unsurprisingly, I was keen to get my hands on it for this reason. An anthology of unrepresented voices and their stories is essential reading.
The scope of the anthology is huge from small villages steeped in ancient traditions to futuristic companies with immoral intentions. There will be something for everyone in it. Although each story is different on the surface, underneath there is a common theme of injustice. The characters often have a deep hurt they cannot ignore. To move forward, they must face their greatest fear and pain to become stronger. The stories are also quite painful with themes of slavery and imprisonment.
As I don’t want to spoil anything for you, I won’t go into detail about each story. I want you to explore them as I did. However, I will tell you the one that stuck with me the most was The Unclean. The Unclean examines the role of women in a patriarchal village and the conflict between Christianity and native beliefs. It was challenging and disturbing, staying with me long after I had finished the book.
None of these stories fit neatly into one genre. Horror features strongly, mixed in with science fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic tales. Ife-Iyoku, The Tale of Imadeyunuagbon blends genres to create a story of difficult and heart-breaking decisions in a futuristic setting of a secluded village after a nuclear war. The choice between tradition and progress is never easy, and the reader is torn as the characters are.
I really enjoyed this collection. I loved reading stories from other different cultures. They made me think and are refreshing because they offer me something new. As they are from a different culture, I needed to focus, paying attention to the nuances and the descriptions. After each story, I usually required time to consider and understand what I had read, which enhanced my appreciation for the whole collection. It isn’t often you find a collection of short stories where each one is gripping and thought-provoking, but Dominion is the exception. Highly recommended.