Title: Koontown Killing Kaper
Author: Bill Campbell
Genre: Science Fiction, Satire
All the rappers in Koontown are being killed, and rumor has it that it’s vampire crack babies doing the killing. Desperate, the police reach out to Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noire, ex-super model/ex-homicide detective/private eye. Together with her former partner, Genevieve must navigate the dangerous world of gangsta rappers, shady record executives, corrupt cops and politicians, ’80s pimps, welfare queens, secret sistah societies, Ubernoggin, and the National Guard. Can the ex-super model survive the chaos and insanity to save her beloved Koontown while it explodes all around her?
My Thoughts: I was wicked surprised with this one, and impressed. It reminded me of a cross between the Divine Comedy, Gulliver’s Travels and Candide. I don’t really know what the literary terminology is so forgive me, but the reason Koontown reminded me of the aforementioned titles was, I guess, like the plot structures were very similar. As they follow the clues of the case, Genevieve and Officer Willie journey through Koontown and find themselves glimpsing into these scenarios rendered ridiculous by Campbell’s hyperbolic use of stereotypes. For instance, Campbell takes the stereotype of the welfare queen and transforms her into Welfare Queen, a larger-than-life, crass-as-hell woman with her legs in the air and popping out a baby (literally) every 10-seconds. And that’s the fun of Koontown, Campbell takes these tropes and blows them into unreal caricatures of themselves which challenge his readers.
This week, in America, libraries and bookstores all over celebrated banned books and I tell you here and now, regardless of where you stand on your politics or your faith; regardless of your skin color, ethnic identity, age, economic status, gender or sexuality, this book will anger you. It is a confrontational read. It is Black and unapologetic for it. This is a book so volatile, by an author so obscure that if it ever got the popularity it needs, it would get banned tout sweet.
I believe this book deserves that popularity, deserves to be a part of the Black-American canon. The piece is so ballsy that it even attacks that canon, decrying its shameless acceptance of (what Campbell calls) Nigga Narratives, which, as I understand it, means Black narratives that appeal to a primarily white audience.
I’d be interested to know how Campbell feels about Black-American Fiction as a genre. Do we need it, or no? Does the genre just need to be updated with more experimental, more contemporary texts and voices, or should the distinction between it and standard (…?) literary fiction be put to an end?
ALSO! Koontown is hilarious! I laughed the whole read long and in spite of myself. I mean, all my needle-necked, white, liberal ideals were thrown right out the window. Even if you don’t want to think as hard as I (obviously) have about this text, read it just for the laughs. It’s so good. I give Koontown five out of five. ⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕
Lastly, if you missed my previous post on Advice for Frustrated Writers, I included a review on Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond at the end of that post. Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall did a great job organizing and editing that anthology!