Scott, Darieck 1964–
Scott, Darieck 1964–
Office—Department of English, 2607 South Hall, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3170.
Writer and educator. University of California, Santa Barbara, assistant professor of English, 2003—.
Traitor to the Race (novel), Plume (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Best Black Gay Erotica, Cleis Press (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
Hex: A Novel of Love Spells, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including Black Like Us, Shade, Giant Steps, Flesh and the Word 4, and Ancestral House. Contributor to periodicals, including Callaloo, GLQ, and Americas Review.
Darieck Scott, a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of Traitor to the Race and Hex: A Novel of Love Spells, a pair of works that examine the experiences of black gay males. ‘I think my life is about trying to work around constraints in terms of expression,’ Scott remarked in Face Forward: Young African American Men in a Critical Age by Julian Okwu. ‘I'm always writing African American literature, that's my milieu, that's what I know, that's what I have studied, and those are the tropes I'm using. It's African American literature and its gay male literature, and in some fundamental way, one part cannot be cleaved from the other."
Traitor to the Race, Scott's debut novel, ‘explores the psychosocial dynamics of interracial relationships, homophobia, and racism,’ observed Library Journal contributor Lawrence Rungren. The work concerns Kenneth Gabriel, an unemployed black actor who passes his days concocting elaborate fantasies in Central Park, and his white partner, Evan Marcialis, a popular soap-opera star and AIDS activist. Their seemingly peaceful lives are thrown into crisis when Kenneth's cousin, Hammett, is brutally raped and murdered by whites in Greenwich Village. The incident stirs feelings of rage and self-loathing in Kenneth, and the couple's relationship threatens to fall apart. ‘The accusatory title is brazenly ironic,’ remarked Canaan Parker in the Lambda Book Report. ‘It is daring, and likely to be misunderstood. Readers shouldn't presume what it means, only that it asks a question—is Kenneth a traitor to his race?"
The novel garnered generally strong reviews; critics especially noted Scott's experimental prose style. The author ‘handles his complex narrative—a kaleidoscope of first- and third-person vignettes—with aplomb,’ remarked a critic in Publishers Weekly. According to Parker, ‘The prominent element of this novel is its ambitious structure. As a novelist, Scott lusts after form and plays in it almost to excess. His restless, kaleidoscopic invention alternates narrators and tries on narrative techniques like hats. Unraveling the complex design is a pleasure. Scott intersperses fantasy with the physical world, reversing the conventional logic of parentheses, as he constructs this fragile, matchstick sculpture."
In Hex, Scott ‘attempts to weave together a complicated story involving race, sexuality, politics, Yoruba tradition, time travel, sorcery and more,’ observed a contributor in Kirkus Reviews. The work centers on four gay men and their search for a friend whose disappearance may be linked to supernatural forces. ‘Scott evokes an eternal present marked by strange, meaningful connections that defy the notion of coincidence,’ a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented.
Though Scott recognizes that his background as a middle-class gay male may be viewed as inauthentic by some critics, he insists that African Americans should highlight, not ignore, their differences. ‘We need to pay attention to, and not just pay lip service to, the diversity in black communities,’ Scott commented in Face Forward. ‘We are different from one another, sometimes in profound ways, ways that bring us into conflict. But even in conflict we can embrace the things that bind us together."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Okwu, Julian C.R., Face Forward: Young African American Men in a Critical Age, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006, review of Hex: A Novel of Love Spells, p. 1241.
Lambda Book Report, May 1, 1995, Canaan Parker, review of Traitor to the Race, p. 18.
Library Journal, April 1, 1995, Lawrence Rungren, review of Traitor to the Race, p. 126.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 1995, review of Traitor to the Race, p. 74; January 1, 2007, review of Hex, p. 36.