All posts tagged: 12-year-old protagonist of The Reformatory

Six Books That Will Scare You—And Make You Think

Six Books That Will Scare You—And Make You Think

In 1920, W. E. B. Du Bois published Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil, a collection of essays, spirituals, and poems that channel his anger toward what he calls the “great, red monster of cruel oppression.” Tucked within was one of Du Bois’s more atypical works, a short science-fiction story called “The Comet.” It follows Jim, a Black man in New York City who one day finds that a comet emitting deadly gas has passed by, killing almost everyone. The only other survivor Jim encounters is a rich white woman named Julia, and for a while, they take solace in each other’s company—until Du Bois reveals that this dystopia hasn’t annihilated racism. “The Comet” is one of the earliest examples of Black artists using science fiction, fantasy, and horror to dramatize the terrors of racism, to subvert genre conventions, or simply to tell frightening, fantastical tales. A significant history of Black writers employing those elements has developed in the years since: Consider Beloved, Toni Morrison’s 1987 Gothic masterpiece about a formerly enslaved mother who believes …