Glass reviews The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott

THREADING together tales of adrenaline, violence and rhythm, American writer Rion Amilcar Scott presents a stunning narrative that bestows its shine from its sharp edges. His collection of short stories, The World Doesn’t Require You, ranges from brief meditations to longer portrayals of characters braced at the intersection of race, desire and moral reckonings.

Many of the stories cross-reference each other while the fictional setting of Cross River becomes a frequent hub of adventure. Scott, who teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland, uses his astute literary gaze to bring together elements of history with fantasy – his collection won the Towson University Prize for Literature in 2020, and it’s easy to see why.

The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott

In one sense, it feels distinctly youthful in its structure – but I’m unable to surrender to the ease of childhood. Each story reveals its purpose with a cutting glimpse of reality. Whether explicit or subtle, Scott ensures that our contemporary social fabric is reflected back to us after being thoroughly dissected.

In The Electric Joy of Service, a programmed servant robot briefly reflects on his interconnectivity with others, interspersed between painful satire. “Many times a day, though, as I serve the Master, I search my system to tap into that virus. I know it’s in me somewhere. Those alternating currents and colors of blessed rage,” it tells us.

Rion Amilcar Scott

Later on, in Special Topics in Loneliness Studies, Scott playfully introduces photographs, footnotes and slideshow images into his witty tale about loneliness, sexuality and academia. At every turn of the page, Scott is innovating a semi-real world that shocks in the same moment that it invites you in.

From racial violence, dissertations and jazz to gods in tattered clothing and water women, The World Doesn’t Require You reminds us of the fruitful space between the surreal, the horrific and the run-of-the-mill. Rion Amilcar Scott is a writer that we will continue to expect great things from.

by Alice Hill-Woods