I so enjoyed getting to chat over Zoom with Connor Goodwin of Shondaland. We talked journalism, complicating feminist utopias, the art of world-building, and the fairy tale of justice.
Set in a near-future that eerily resonates with our present pandemic, Afterland is not only an intriguing thought experiment, but a riveting read. With her ability to create cinematic-like action, Beukes embeds the reader in the scene and keeps the plot moving at a brisk clip.
And here’s an extract:
CG: Afterland could be lumped together with other dystopian stories like Children of Men and The Handmaid’s Tale wherein gender and sex are crucial organizing principles of society. Were there conventions of this format you wanted to play with or common trappings you wished to avoid?
LB: The concept for the novel was a world without men — the pandemic was just a way of getting there. There’s a long history of world-without-men novels, dating back to the 1800s, of various kinds of feminist or not-so-feminist utopias. I really wanted to lean in to this idea that a world of women, especially if it was emerging from our own world, would not naturally be better or kinder, and where everyone’s growing communal gardens and making friendship bracelets.
Thanks @proteaboekwinkelhatfield for the great photo of the South African edition of Afterland!