“The breath of the sky”, a first Quebec afrofantasy novel
Le Geekois cracks the codes of Quebec geek culture for you: comics, fantasy literature, genre cinema, video games, board games. It's this way.
Originally from Martinique, Mélodie Joseph moved to Quebec almost 10 years ago to study. A choice she made after being charmed by the beauty of Old Quebec during a trip, she tells Métro one hour before the launch of his book at Librairie Saga. After a baccalaureate in communication – a field in which she currently works –, she completed a master's degree in literature at the University of Montreal where she wrote a thesis on Afrofuturism.
Si le genre was still unknown to the general public when she began her memoir, the sensational release of the film Black Panther, in 2018, influenced her writing, she admits.
“Before, there were only a few posts about Afrofuturism — mostly in English — and after the movie came out, there started to get a lot more articles about it,” explains Mélodie Joseph.
According to Mark Dery, essayist and reporter for the Washington Post and Rolling Stone< /em>, Afrofuturism is “a speculative fiction that deals with African-American themes […] in the context of 20th century technoculture. […] An Afro-American semantics that seizes technological imagery and a prophetically augmented future”.
A Story of Revenge
If Mélodie Joseph likes science fiction, the subject of her study, she also has a marked interest in fantasy, a genre in which his first novel falls.
Fantasy is a literary genre in which the action takes place in an imaginary world populated by supernatural, mythical or legendary beings, while the fantastic is characterized by the intrusion of the supernatural into the realistic framework of a narrative.
The main theme of The breath of the sky – the first volume of a tetralogy entitled The sower of winds – is revenge, argues the author 27 years old. We follow a young black orphan who has lost her memory and who has a disturbing power.
First taken in by a loner living in lands devastated by toxic mists who named her Olive, the girl was later abandoned to an orphanage on islands in the sky, a federation of floating archipelagos ruled by oracles and inspired by the islands of the Caribbean Sea where the author spent her childhood and adolescence.
Through this story, Mélodie Joseph questions History with a capital H, those who write it and the influence it can have on the construction of a society. It therefore takes up here the reflection of Robert Brasillach, the journalist and writer at the origin of the formula saying that “history is written by the victors”. Is history an exact science? Does she serve a political project?
These are the questions that the young heroine of The breath of the sky is confronted with, since she herself comes from a defeated people. “I like the idea of how certainties build an individual,” says Mélodie Joseph.
This construction of History and the discriminations that can result from it are also part of the afrofantasy aspect of The breath of the sky, according to the author. A Caribbean spirit emerges from the proposal of Mélodie Joseph, proud to put forward her roots in a story from the literature of the imagination.
A productive author
The first volume has barely been published and the second and third have already been written, says Mélodie Joseph.
She specifies that La semeuse de vents was originally intended to be a trilogy, but the publisher chose to divide the first volume into two books, which explains why she is already so advanced in writing this story. < /p>
A decision she fully agrees with, especially since the editor decided to cut in a perfectly adequate place.
The breath of the sky is a captivating first novel by a young New Quebecer author who should be watched closely and who contributes to the development of local imaginary literature by enriching it with some flavors from elsewhere.
The breath of the sky by Mélodie Joseph is in bookstore starting today, February 15.