Cross River, Md., is a fictional town with an exceptional claim: it was founded during the Great Insurrection, the only successful slave revolt in the United States. While its residents experience less hostility than they would in neighboring towns, the legacy of slavery has manifested itself in ways that make Cross Riverians unlike any other characters in literature.
In The World Doesn't Require You, Rion Amilcar Scott presents a collection of short stories and a novella that defy convention. Readers meet David, the least favored of God's sons, whose efforts to win his father's favor with a band devoted to the "Cross River sound" fall flat. There is Tyrone, a Ph.D. candidate whose dissertation on a seemingly innocent prank is part of Cross River's origin story. But the prank holds dire consequences when he and his friend Deez undertake it today. Then, Scott whisks into the future, where Jim is one of the last Robotic Personal Helpers, and whose Master gave him "the appearance of a minstrel. A blackface clown in a top hat and tails." The pinnacle of Scott's ambition is the novella Special Topics in Loneliness Studies, in which the narrator, a professor at Freedman's University, convinces his colleague Reggie to bare his soul in a year-long class--an effort to take down both Reggie and the university itself.
Cross River is a place steeped in mythology, where men are seduced by fantastical water-women and early founders become legends. While Cross River is fictional and magical realism abounds, it speaks volumes about the world of today. --Frank Brasile, librarian