We are super excited to announce the acquisition of Club Ded by Nikhil Singh, a ground-breaking Afrofuturistic novel which goes beyond current understanding of the term.
We secured WEL and Italian rights from Sarah Such at Sarah Such Literary Agency.
In Club Ded, Afrofuturism meets Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in an exhilarating psychedelic-noir second novel from Nikhil Singh, author of Taty Went West, shortlisted for Best African Novel in the inaugural Nommo Awards.
Talking to Nikhil about Club Ded we fell in love with his bold approach to explore and expand speculative African fiction. We first met at Helsinki Worldcon, and even then it was easy to tell how committed Nikhil was to gritty, realistic storytelling, albeit in a speculative setting. His words have never shied away from telling it like it was, which is what we really like here at Luna. His work is simply uncompromising.
We are working with Ruby Gloom, from the vibrant art scene of Hong Kong, for the cover art of Club Ded. You can find out more about Ruby on her Instagram page.
Nikhil Singh told us:
“The idea with this book was not to fall into the burgeoning ‘Afrofuturist’ narrative traps currently being pushed. But to expand the genre while it is still being formed. Much of the internal discrepancy in the Afrofuturist scene has been formed in the push and pull between American and African viewpoints.
In Club Ded I wanted to highlight that divide – and also show how it could be brought together. Principally, in relationship between the characters of Brick Bryson (an African American A-list star) and Fortunato (a maverick Zulu film-maker who has assumed a Nigerian identity in order to escape his past). At first there is a culture clash between the two. The American form here is quite set, externalized and consumerist. The African form is secretive, experimental, revealing itself in layers. Through conflict and necessity – they eventually find way to join forces.
I thought it was important to write about the methodology of creation for a change. Instead of fable-making. What type of people are mythmaking in Africa now? How does their personal story fit within a contemporary Africa? The Cape Town setting is the product of having lived for so many years in the shadow of the mountain. Africa is too often mythologized, when I feel it should be represented realistically. Though, what many fail to take into account, is that in a city like Cape Town, the obverse mimicry is in play. The African form in this sort of media town is to ape the West. Beneath whose superficialities, of course, burn the primordial and inescapable roots of place.
The characters, I felt, also had to match the reality in an uncompromising fashion. A studied impression of culture clashes, for example. The Cape Town I portray here is also intended to be realist – which is complex, because it is quite an unreal city. If I had to describe it - it would be ‘magical-nihilist’. There is very much the sense of an outer face and a world beneath. The characters mirror this divide. They are either ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’. And much energy is released when one crosses over. As I mentioned previously, I intended this book to be an epic portrait of a city. In the classic sense of the term. So, after building up a world of characters who create Afrofuturist realities – the plot itself finally transmutes into Afrofuturism – incorporating shamanic drug cults who employ subaquatic breathing technology to create worlds within worlds and futuristic sovereign city states. All for the sake of creating ‘Afrofuturist art’.”
About the Author
Nikhil Singh is a South African artist, writer and musician. Former projects include the graphic novels: Salem Brownstone written by John Harris Dunning (longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, Walker Books 2009) as well as The Ziggurat (Bell-Roberts 2003) by The Constructus Corporation (now Die Antwoord). His work has also been featured in various magazines including Dazed, i-D Online, Creative Review, as well as Pictures and Words: New Comic Art and Narrative Illustration (Laurence King, 2005). His debut novel Taty Went West was published by Kwani? Trust in 2015, Jacaranda Books (UK) in 2017, and Rosarium (US) in 2018. The book was released with an accompanying soundtrack and was shortlisted for Best African Novel in the inaugural Nommo Awards. He was recently invited to submit a story to The Unquiet Dreamer, a prestigious Harlan Ellison tribute, from PS Publishing in 2019. To date, the author has participated in the following festivals: African Futures (Nairobi 2015), Time of the Writer (SA 2015), African Utopia (Southbank Center UK 2015), Africa Writes (British Library UK / Royal African Society 2016), Worldcon 75/Hugo Awards (Hugo Awards presenter / profiled writer Helsinki 2017), South African Book Fair / Bookweek (SA 2017), Readercon (Boston 2018), New York Science Fiction Review (NY 2018).
Club Ded is planned to be released in 2020.