...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.
...a bleak and beautiful collection of short stories ... This remarkable literary project, with its echoes of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, or more recently Jesmyn Ward’s Bois Sauvage, makes use of place as a deeply significant factor in characters’ lives ... Scott’s stories are often told in first person, from the point of view of men whose different voices and different eras come to form a chorus of black life in Cross River. Dialogue is rendered without quotation marks, a technique that leads to fluent slippage between what the characters think and what they say ... Reading The World Doesn’t Require You is an immersive, slightly disorienting experience. The book’s stories change modes, one after another – realism to science-fiction to horror and back, leaving readers captivated but also intentionally off-balance. Painful and shocking moments of racism and violence occur next to scenes of tenderness and humor.
Scott demonstrates the skill and long-range vision of a writer we need right now. The World Doesn’t Require You requires a commitment from readers, one that will be greatly repaid in literary satisfaction.
...Rion Amilcar Scott proves himself an impressive myth-slayer and fable-maker ... Scott casts most of his characters — mainly black and male — as misguided, paranoid and with a revolutionary flair. That is not to say these characters are wrong. The World Doesn’t Require You reminds us that having to fight racism has a strange way of distorting everything one touches ... Scott has said that 'in my fiction I’m attempting to write about blackness in the varied and multitudinous ways that I’ve experienced it.' But simply sidelining white racist characters, as both of his collections do, doesn’t erase the lingering effects of slavery ... With two books under his belt, Scott seems to have barely skimmed the surface of the many more characters and conflicts he could explore in Cross River.
Cross River will take on a veracity that rivals any number of real places ... readers new to his work will find this book a world unto itself, both in terms of completeness and in terms of genre ... Scott’s Cross River has been compared to other authors’ imagined places, from Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County to Jesmyn Ward’s Bois Sauvage (and I would add Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, as well as Black Panther’s Wakanda), but it’s completely his own, forged of deep roots, racial conflict and humor so mordant you’ll do double takes ... his understanding of our country’s racial divide transcends his characters’ experience, but never intrudes on their truth ... These stories range from satire to fantasy to horror and not one of them strikes a false note. There are angry notes. Even, perhaps, hostile ones. But none that are unwarranted. A few readers may be shocked by Scott’s use of cultural epithets, but those are far from unnecessary. We have so far to go and so little time to get there, Scott seems to say. Maybe spending a few hours in Cross River will help build a bridge. Or blow one up, if need be.
Scott's 2016 debut, Insurrections, was a breakout hit for the Maryland author, and showcased his sprawling imagination and beautiful writing. His follow-up, filled with the same dark humor and exuberant risk-taking, is somehow even better ... The stories in The World Doesn't Require You cross genres, with influences from science fiction...and straight-up horror ... Scott writes about the surreal and fantastic with a straight face, content to let the weirder elements of his stories to speak for themselves, and this technique lets his characters shine through — there's a real sense of humanity in each story, even the two in which the main character is a robot ... Scott's book ends with a firecracker of a novella ... The novella's ending is at once funny and wistful; it highlights Scott's sense of compassion without sacrificing his mordant edge. Like all of the stories in The World Doesn't Require You, it's powerful, unexpected and dreamy. The book is less a collection of short stories than it is an ethereal atlas of a world that's both wholly original and disturbingly familiar; Scott proves to be immensely talented at conjuring an alternate reality that looks like an amplified version of our own. Bizarre, tender and brilliantly imagined, The World Doesn't Require You isn't just one of the most inventive books of the year, it's also one of the best.
With his new collection, The World Doesn’t Require You, Scott has delved into the viscera of Cross River, exploring its passions and darkest secrets. These 11 genre-spanning stories, plus an intricate novella, take more risks both stylistically and thematically ... Scott uses not just prose passages, but emails, diary entries, academic essays, even a slide presentation, to initiate a wide-ranging, nuanced discussion of scholastic integrity, loneliness, love, toxic masculinity, gender norms, and appropriation of other‘s stories ... fascinating and fantastical ... hopefully, Scott has more of its stories to tell.
The fiction collection is a rich, genre-splicing mix of alternate history, magical realism and satire that interrogates issues of race, sexism and where both meet here in the real world ... Cross River stands in tragic contrast to the neighboring white-dominated town of Port Yooga. But Scott’s imagination runs deeper than simply placing his characters in opposition to a single force and instead examines the ways oppression is passed down and continues to thrive ... Scott has as vivid ear for description and pace, rendering one nightmarish story that feels like an unaired episode of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot. Beginning with someone hitching a ride from a stranger into Cross River, the story wryly named after the chorus of Dr. Dre’s 1993 single Let Me Ride culminates in a drug-addled fever dream ... While Scott needs only a few pages to make an impact, he devotes the bulk of The World Doesn’t Require You to the novella-length closer...Special Topics at first feels elusive, with a kitchen sink construction of emails, PowerPoint slides, essays and imagined folklore amid an unreliable narration, but it coalesces into an indictment of a patriarchal academic system that diminishes female voices ... The story connects to the upheaval of 2019 in a way that few recent works of fiction have.
... the prose is energetic and at times humorous—often uncomfortably so ... Scott’s bold and often outlandish imagination makes for stories that may be difficult to define, but whose emotional authenticity is never once in doubt.