Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country is an HBO horror series set in the 1950s that was developed by Misha Green directed by Jordan Peele. The series is about a young black man, Tic, who travels across the United States during the segregated 1950s in search of his missing father, learning of dark secrets that are part of his family lineage. The show also shows Tic’s brushes with the supernatural in Korea during his service in the Army. 

If you’re looking for more titles like Lovecraft Country or historical background, below are fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as movies that fans of Lovecraft Country can access with their Livingston library cards. 

Fiction

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this novel that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy. Chicago, 1954. When his father goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George, publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite, heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors, they encounter both racial terrors of white America and malevolent spirits.

The Call of the Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

In this science fiction short story, the narrator recounts a sequence of portentous discoveries which indicate that a vast, ancient cosmic pantheon of supernatural deities with the power to erase humankind is awakening after a long slumber. This 1926 short story, first published in Weird Tales Magazine, is seen as one of Lovecraft’s most important and influential works.

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler

This New York Times Notable Book includes “Bloodchild,” winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and “Speech Sounds,” winner of the Hugo Award. Also new to this collection is “The Book of Martha” which asks: What would you do if God granted you the ability, and responsibility, to save humanity from itself? Like all of Octavia Butler’s best writing, these works of the imagination are parables of the contemporary world. 

How Long ’til Black Future Month?:Stories by N. K. Jemisin

Three-time Hugo Award winner and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption that sharply examine modern society in her first collection of short fiction. Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power. In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it’s as if the paint is literally calling to her. In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels. And they’re not the only ones.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

The Hole by Hye-young Pyun

In this tense, gripping novel by a rising star of Korean literature, Oghi has woken from a coma after causing a devastating car accident that took his wife’s life and left him paralyzed and badly disfigured. His caretaker is his mother-in-law, a widow grieving the loss of her only child. Oghi is neglected and left alone in his bed. His world shrinks to the room he lies in and his memories of his troubled relationship with his wife, a sensitive, intelligent woman who found all of her life goals thwarted except for one: cultivating the garden in front of their house. But soon Oghi notices his mother-in-law in the abandoned garden, uprooting what his wife had worked so hard to plant and obsessively digging larger and larger holes. When asked, she answers only that she is finishing what her daughter started.

Paradise by Toni Morrison 

Rumors had been whispered for more than a year. Outrages that had been accumulating all along took shape as evidence. A mother was knocked down the stairs by her cold-eyed daughter. Four damaged infants were born in one family. Daughters refused to get out of bed. Brides disappeared on their honeymoons. Two brothers shot each other on New Year’s Day. Trips to Demby for VD shots common. And what went on at the Oven these days was not to be believed . . . The proof they had been collecting since the terrible discovery in the spring could not be denied: the one thing that connected all these catastrophes was in the Convent. And in the Convent were those women.

Nonfiction

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde (audiobook)

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. 

You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body is a Confederate Monument” by Carolyn Randall Williams (New York Times Article)

Published in The New York Times in June 2020, poet Carolyn Randall Williams’ opinion piece about the destruction of Confederate monuments calls on readers to see the history of Black Americans, the Civil War and ensuing Jim Crow laws beyond statutes. The author details her genealogy and why, she, a Black woman, is a walking reminder of the Civil War.

To to access this NYTimes article, visit https://www.livingstonlibrary.org/, click “Collections” –> “Resources A-Z,” and then scroll down to “New York Times (Outside the Library)” to link free access to the NYTimes to your account. You will need a Livingston library card and a (free) NYTimes online account to complete this process.

The American Dream and the American Negro” by James Baldwin (New York Times Archieve Article)

Writer James Baldwin took part in a debate with William F. Buckley at The Cambridge Union in 1965. The two tackled whether the American dream was achieved at the expense of Black Americans.

To to access this NYTimes archive article, visit https://www.livingstonlibrary.org/, click “Collections” –> “Resources A-Z,” and then scroll down to “New York Times (Outside the Library)” to link free access to the NYTimes to your account. You will need a Livingston library card and a (free) NYTimes online account to complete this process.

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen

“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” Exploring how this troubled memory works in Vietnam, the United States, Laos, Cambodia, and South Korea, the book deals specifically with the Vietnam War and also war in general. He reveals how war is a part of our identity, as individuals and as citizens of nations armed to the teeth. Venturing through literature, film, monuments, memorials, museums, and landscapes of the Vietnam War, he argues that an alternative to nationalism and war exists in art, created by artists who adhere to no nation but the imagination.

Movies

Underground: Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD & Blu Ray)

Created by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, starring Jurnee Smollett and with music from John Legend, Underground followed a group of slaves banding together to escape along the Underground Railroad in the 1850s.

Get Out (DVD & Blu Ray)

Directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is an American horror film that follows Chris Washington, a young African-American man who uncovers a disturbing secret when he meets the family of his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage.

O.J.: Made in America (DVD & Blu Ray)

An essential examination of the rise and fall of Orenthal James Simpson, and parallels between his incredible story with that of race in America. This critically-acclaimed documentary series reveals how he first became a football star, why America fell in love with him off the field, what happened in the trial for his ex-wife’s murder, and finally, why he is now sitting in jail for another crime 20 years later.

Black Panthers: Vanguard of Revolution (DVD)

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is the first feature length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it.

I Am Not Your Negro (DVD & Blu Ray)

Master documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material. A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.

-Anna, Head of Youth Services

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