The author of Insurrections—winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction—returns with a story collection that explores an imaginary town called Cross River, established by the leaders of the country’s only successful slave revolt in the mid-nineteenth century.
...a rich and extraordinary new collection rooted in an African-American present reverberant with the past ... Scott...has created a fictional mini-world so detailed that, for all its surreality, you begin to feel you could draw it on a map. But what he’s also tracing here is a history of oppression ... The persistence of racism in American culture is central, but other entrenched forms of domination are here, too: the toxic hierarchies that humans, even those fleeing their own subjugation, so dependably replicate.
... mischievous, relentlessly inventive stories whose interweaving content swerves from down-home grit to dreamlike grotesque ... Mordantly bizarre and trenchantly observant, these stories stake out fresh territory in the nation’s literary landscape.
The World Doesn’t Require You feels like a collection about people to whom God said no ... Scott makes his stories feel singular. He bends expectations throughout the book, frequently demonstrating this idea... 'Everything horrible is just a little bit ridiculous, and vice versa'. And despite how clear Scott is about this modus operandi, he constantly surprises, pushing things just a little further in either direction. Just as readers have a chance to get their footing, a bird screeches at such a loud volume that eardrums are shattered, and then things get worse from there ... This high level of energy and humor, which Scott maintains throughout, makes the novella a standout ... Scott presents Chambers and his project as absurd, while also making the project itself compelling to read. This is exemplary of the balancing act the author pulls off through much of the collection, as his troubled characters try their best to make do with the weight of difficult histories strapped to their backs. Though God may have forsaken them, Scott does not. The World Doesn’t Require You is full of horrible, ridiculous people, but it’s full of grace, too.