Azania, Malcolm 1970(?)- (Minister Faust)
Azania, Malcolm 1970(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1970.
CAREER: High school and junior high school teacher of English and social studies, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1994-. Host of The Terrordome and Afrika All-World News Service; cohost and coproducer of Asiko Phantom Pyramid Global Afrikan Musics [sic] and Portals to Planet Africa radio programs, all for CJSR FM-88, Edmonton.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Campus-Community Radio Conference Award for broadcast excellence, 2000, for The Terrordome; Philip K. Dick Award finalist, Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award finalist, Locus notable book citation, and Top-Ten Books of 2004 citation, January Magazine, all 2004, all for The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad.
Contributor to periodicals, including Toronto Globe & Mail, See, Alberta Views, and Vue Weekly; writer of screenplays, one of which was the basis for The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad.
SIDELIGHTS: Malcolm Azania is a Canadian teacher, writer, radio host, and activist who writes and broadcasts under the name Minister Faust. His award-winning radio program, The Terrordome, which has been heard by Canadian listeners for many years, brings together the news of black communities, history, politics, and culture from around the globe, as well as commentary on the pro-democracy movement and the state of the world, both domestically and internationally. Azania has interviewed many well-known political analysts, activists, historians, journalists, writers, poets, and directors who comments both on black culture and society and politics in general.
Azania's sci fi/fantasy novel The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad is set in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, in a black melting-pot community called the Kush. Denver Post reviewer Fred Cleaver described Azania's book as a "delightful first novel," while Gerald Jonas, who dubbed the debut "fresh and stylish entertainment," added in his New York Times Book Review appraisal that Azania "anatomizes" the streets of his city "with the same loving care Joyce brought to early twentieth-century Dublin."
Vue Weekly Online contributor Paul Matwychuk noted that there are details of the landscape that may seem fabricated, but in fact are not. Edmonton really has a pyramid-shaped city hall, and the most artsy street is named Whyte Avenue. Matwychuk commented that Azania's characters emphasize that they are not making these things up. "Of course," added Matwychuk, "for decades the science fiction genre has been a virtual White Avenue itself—despite high-profile black authors like Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler and the occasional movie like Mission to Mars or The Matrix or Alien that gave key roles to black actors, most pop culture images of the future are as white as Keir Dullea's bedroom at the end of 2001.
The novel's protagonists include modern-day "slackers" who are both before their time and highly industrious: Hamza, a college dropout who washes dishes while trying to recover from a lost love, and his brainy roommate, Yehat, a video store clerk who has an affinity for gadgets. Their lives are defined, in part, by their emersion in pop culture and fandom. Calling themselves the Coyote Kings, they are involved in their community by running a camp for kids. A Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that in Hamza and Yehat, the author has created "a killer comic pair, constantly brawling but with a resolutely sweet loyalty to each other and to their scrappy, multiethnic Edmonton neighborhood." Hamza meets a mysterious woman named Sheremnefer, but Yehat is suspicious of her. Sheremnefer, who shares Hamza's passion for comic books and "Star Trek," is seeking an ancient Egyptian artifact that has the potential for destruction. Among the baddies also seeking the artifact are brothers Kevlar and Heinz Meaney, former friends of the Coyote Kings who have gone over to the dark side and use a drug called Creme, which they employ for their own sinister purposes.
T. M. Wagner wrote in SF Reviews.net that "once you're into the story, there's no mystery as to the constant allusions to movies and TV and comix. Everything in Faust's plot owes itself to a lifetime absorbing such entertainments. Coyote Kings is Indiana Jones as directed by Spike Lee. The story is nothing less than an alt-comics graphic novel without the graphics. And yet, thanks to Faust's energetic voice, the novel still manages to come across like nothing you've really ever read before, despite its wearing its influences on its sleeve like a lovesick troubadour wears his heart." Wagner called the author's language "pure poetry" and cited Azania's "gift for pithy turns of phrase, a way of observing … that displays an original wit."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, Regina Schroeder, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. 1712.
Denver Post, August 22, 2004, Fred Cleaver, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. F12.
Ebony, August, 2004, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. 30.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. 477.
Library Journal, April 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. 128.
New York Times Book Review, September 12, 2004, Gerald Jones, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 2004, review of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, p. 48.
Malcolm Azania Home Page, http://www.ministerfaust.com (February 25, 2005).
Vue WeeklyOnline, http://www.vueweekly.com/ (February 25, 2005), Paul Matwychuk, "Minister with Portfolio."