Ring Shout. P. Djeli Clark Continues to Cement the Novella as an Important Storytelling Medium.
Ring Shout completely transports and immerses its reader, much like a fantastic full-length novel.
Clark spins a certain tapestry with his writing, it is vivid, culturally rich, resonant, and lyrical. Ring Shout, his most recent story, is no different. We know immediately that we will be getting action, history, meaning, horror, and a message. It is impossible to miss. History meets Present resembling Past in this fantastically imagined story about strong Black women hunting the monsters who lurk in the open. He did an amazing job realizing a separate yet linked embodiment of a Klan member and a Ku Klux. What happens when dark insidious forces are used to strengthen hate? What monsters truly come out to play then?
We get short, sharp conversations on war, socialism, and equality, all of which adds such layering to the world that is being created. This narrative is heavily influenced by actual events and it is cleverly and clearly subverted here. Hate is the symbol and transformer of ordinary Klansmen into the hideous and horrific Ku Kluxes. Clark ingeniously uses the fear and hatred of Black folx as the mutative power that will birth the monsters that will be used to hunt, harm, terrorize and kill us.
Every page is a discovery, a nod of the head, a thump of the heart. There is a wealth of Black strength, beauty, family, friendship, magic, and ancestral spirit contained within this novella and it doesn't get much better than that.
And even as our heroines battle the evil that is rising, we get our people gathering and relaxing, eating, laughing, playing, dancing, celebrating, praising, singing, and loving. this is a stark juxtaposition to the horror of being hated, hounded, and oppressed, and shows the depth of resilience contained within our people; we have the will to fight and face evil, go home to decompress with rituals and living that ground us. The humour that is threaded throughout this book makes it even more precious and meaningful. Because knowing all our ancestors endured and all we are enduring; our laughter is priceless beyond measure. To be able to find space and make time for humour is the pinnacle of self-care. To be able to make jokes in the face of darkness is what keeps us going.
What Clark has accomplished here, many try to get across in a full-length novel and fail. He has given us complex, flawed and worthy characters, an atmosphere that is rife with the continued struggle and horror of Black Lives, overflowing with our fortitude, love, and culture, and a villain that is familiar as it is true.
Image to the Left: Unity Circle (Kenyan Wood Carving)