In Impossible Stories: On the Space and Time of Black Destructive Creation (Ohio State UP, 2021), John Murillo offers bold new readings of recent and canonical Black creative works within an Afro-pessimistic framework to excavate how time, space, and blackness intersect—or, rather, crash. Building on Michelle Wright’s ideas about dislocation from time and space as constitutive to being Black in America, as well as on W. E. B. DuBois’s theories of temporalization, he reconsiders the connections between physical phenomena and principles, literature, history, and the fragmented nature of Black time and space.
Taking as his lens the fragment—fragmented bodies, fragments of memories, fragments of texts—Murillo theorizes new directions for Black identity and cultural production. Combining a critical engagement of physics and metaphysics with innovative readings of Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Kiese Laymon’s Long Division, Dionne Brand’s A Map to the Door of No Return, and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, he offers new ways to think about anti-Black racism and practice Black creativity. Ultimately, in his equally creative and analytical responses to depictions of Black people left out of history and barred from spaces, Murillo argues that through Afro-pessimism, Black people can fight the anti-Black cosmos.