Short Story Review: “Those” by Sofia Samatar

2 of 5 stars.

In an era of increased racial tension, historical fiction depicting the European colonization of Africa carries weight. Heart of Darkness did much to show the dehumanizing attitudes of the “explorers” and “overseers” that viewed natives as workers, guides, essentially a vast pool of potential employees to be used as the noble white man saw fit.

This tale assumes the antiquated narration style and affected voice of Victorian literature in rehashing the African Colonial Era. Upon the death of his friend, an old man recounts to his daughter the adventures of the 2 men as bachelors wandering and then working in Africa as overseers. Their Belgian boss clearly doesn’t view the natives as human. But it’s hardly clear that the 2 men do, either. This tale does little to add enlightenment or perspective to the situation.

That’s not to say that the tale is unaware of weight. It is, but tries to pull off a surprise with a light hand with little effect. The daughter hearing the tale from her father, doesn’t share his attitudes. Yet she does nothing to shift the tone, and nothing comes to a head on the page.

This tale appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2016 edited by Paula Guran, I received directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “How to Get Back to the Forest”.

 

 

 

[Check out my other reviews here.]

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