All posts tagged: love affairs

The Thin Line Between Utopia and Dystopia

The Thin Line Between Utopia and Dystopia

Straddling the border of Virginia and North Carolina, the Great Dismal Swamp stretches 750 square miles and teems with thick, tangled vines. Lofty pine trees shade the sun; pools of standing black water snake a path to an expansive freshwater lake. In the 16th century, when Europeans began to colonize North America’s coast, this marshy interior became a haven for outcasts. “Self-emancipators,” the historian J. Brent Morris writes in Dismal Freedom: A History of the Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp, “settled into new lives of freedom in a wilderness landscape deemed worthless and inaccessible by whites.” In these maroon settlements, which bloomed throughout the Atlantic world, formerly enslaved people raised livestock, built homes out of self-harvested timber, tended gardens, and occasionally raided the farms and slave camps of their neighbors. Gabriel Bump’s second novel, The New Naturals, is set roughly in the present day. Though about a century and a half has passed since slavery ended in the U.S., society, of course, remains troubled and unequal. Early in the book, Rio, an ambitious young …