This year’s Bartels lecturer, bestselling novelist N. K. Jemisin, is the first author in the science fiction and fantasy genre’s history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards. Her fiction and critical writing highlight extraordinary and ordinary people's potential to resist oppression and reorder the world—even when entire societies have been structured to limit and exclude them.
Jemisin will give the Bartels World Affairs Lecture, "Building Our World Better," Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall.
Anindita Banerjee explains how Jemisin builds a better future by reclaiming the stories and imaginative worlds of peoples whose history has been erased. Banerjee is an associate professor of comparative literature in the College of Arts and Sciences and part of the faculty leadership for Einaudi’s inequalities, identities, and justice research priority and the new Global Grand Challenge: The Future.
Question: What’s unique about Jemisin’s approach to world-building and activism as a creative practice?
Answer: For a while now, we have been at this juncture where the future seems less and less imaginable. Jemisin, to me, exemplifies the ability—which seems so rare now—of thinking about the future at all. Jemisin is the kind of writer who asks us to think differently about how to build the future by looking at both the real-world stories and imaginative storytelling worlds of people who have been historically left out of these conversations. Building the future in the imagination was never a task that only a very small part of humanity undertook.