In Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, early twentieth-century statesman of Black-American discourse W.E.B. Du Bois weaves autofiction with poetry, social essay, science fiction, and Afrofuturist storytelling that presages Butler, Due, Adjei-Brenyah, Shawl, and Jemisin. Three wise men gather as a Christ child of color is born in a Georgia shanty; a reflection on World War I reframes its bloody legacy against the wages of Western imperialism; a deadly race riot in the streets of East St. Louis on the eve of the Fourth of July is revisited as part of a long continuum of exploited inequities, workers’ rights violations, and race hatred; and a post-apocalyptic New York finds a Black man and white woman, possibly the last two people on Earth, on the verge of a new reckoning. Du Bois plunges twenty-first century readers into his protean and mysterious text, one that begs us to examine how the Black American experience has changed these last hundred years—and how it remains the same.
Originally published in 1920, Darkwater is reprinted here in a luxurious new hardcover edition, with full-page illustrations by Jamiel Law.