Guernica Magazine

Victor LaValle: Imagine Downton Abbey, but with Smells

The award-winning writer on editing his first anthology, horror versus sci-fi, and the American tradition of voter suppression. The post Victor LaValle: Imagine Downton Abbey, but with Smells appeared first on Guernica.
Detail from Robert Frederick Blum, View from the Artist's Window, Grove Street, (1900). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Margaret and Raymond J. Horowitz, 1976.

Even when confined to New York City, Victor LaValle’s fiction covers plenty of territory. His latest novel, The Changeling, is a perfect example: a moving portrait of a marriage; a haunting vision of online surveillance; a revelatory depiction of a city that can seem all too familiar; and a contemporary version of an ancient—even primal—tale of sinister beings lurking in hidden places. In a recent conversation with Marlon James at Vulture, LaValle discussed his shift away from realism following an earlier pair of novels. “I really do feel like that sense of joy became imbued in the text,” he said. “People were touched by those first two books, but nobody ever said they enjoyed them.”

Now, LaValle, who also teaches writing at Columbia University, has added another dimension to his literary resume: editor. In collaboration with John Joseph Adams, LaValle edited the anthology A People’s Future of the United States, in which an impressive group of writers—including Charles Yu, N. K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, and Omar El Akkad—offer their vision of this country’s future.

In the introduction, LaValle writes about his family and the impact of Howard Zinn’s now-classic A People’s History of the United States: “Hell, even

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