Author Wayétu Moore reimagines African history in celebrated debut novel “She Would Be King”
Author Wayétu Moore joined SalonTV’s D. Watkins to discuss the making of her debut novel “She Would Be King, a dramatic reimagination of Liberia’s creation. The author, who TIME magazine says has “literary superpowers,” opened up to Salon about the novel’s connection to her own story and its unique use of magical realism—which she says in a centuries-old tradition.
“Women tend to negotiate their power in patrilocal context,” Moore told Salon. “As I grew as a woman, so did my character [Gbessa]. I was constantly learning about the message I wanted to tell about the role of patriarchy then and now, and about how it shaped her experience in this new republic as a black woman in her country and also the world.”
“She Would Be King” follows three characters, all with superpowers and intertwining connections to Liberia—one has been exiled, one was raised on a plantation in Virginia and another is the child of a white British colonizer. Their supernatural talents help them connect.
While Moore says American audiences often hone in on her use of Afro-futurism and are excited by the idea of black sci-fi, this style is nothing new, she says.
“This type of storytelling has always existed, it’s just that before it was seen as unChristian or uncivilized. What do you mean you’re talking to your ancestors? What do you mean about the supernatural and people are flying? Really, this is our spirituality. I think it was suppressed for so long that now that it’s being published in the West, it’s being presented as an introduction.”
Watch the video above to hear the more about how Moore is using her writing to bridge the gap between the African and the African American experience. And hear more about Moore’s nonprofit One Moore Book, which encourages reading for children in countries with low literacy rates.
Subscribe to SalonTV’s YouTube Channel to watch SalonTV's live interview and music shows "Salon Talks" and "Salon Stage," airing daily at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. Click here to watch more “Salon Talks” interviews.About “Salon Talks”: Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on YouTube and Salon.com.