5 Fiction Novels By Contemporary Black Authors To Add To Your TBR List

There's one for every kind of reader

Few industries have been left untouched by the current Black Lives Matter movement taking place around the world. Extending out to every facet of life, the push for anti-racism and systemic change is strong, and many industries are seeing an entire overhaul.

Also finding a way to get involved in the movement is the publishing industry, who is pushing out their initiative #BlackPublishingPower beginning this week. The idea is for every book worm and lover alike to buy two books written by black authors this week in a bid to close the gap on racial inequality in the publishing industry.

For readers, immersing yourself in a novel is a welcomed act of escapism. It allows you to experience living from a viewpoint that isn’t your own, creating a deep sense of understanding and empathy. Which is why it’s important to read books that are outside of your own image.

Highlighted by Irish academic Emma Dabiri, Emma says that for white people reading books written by black authors is hugely important, “Read books by black people. I don’t just mean anti-racist books. (Black people cannot be reduced to our experiences of white racism, that is you centering yourself again).”

 

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Continuing on, Emma said: “Often the greatest truths about the human condition are expressed in fiction, and some of the greatest works of literature happen to have been written by black people.”

With that end in mind, here are 5 books by contemporary black authors celebrating black joy.

Queenie – Candice Carty Williams 

 

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‘Queenie’ follows the story of a 25-year-old Jamaican-British woman living in London as she navigates her complicated but beautiful life. Working as a journalist in a national newspaper, Queenie feels constantly compared to her white, middle-class colleagues. After a messy break-up with her boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

With The Fire On High – Elizabeth Acevedo

 

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With The Fire On High is a tale of heartbreak and triumph. Following the story of protagonist Emoni, a high-school student who has a young daughter to care for, Emoni must make hard decisions in order to better her and her daughter’s future. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Faced with every challenge that life can throw at you, Emoni strives for better, once she starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid

 

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Author Kiley Reid’s debut novel, Such A Fun Age is the perfect example of accessible political fiction about race and gender. The blurb reads:

In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett 

 

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Looking far beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half looks explores the lasting influence of the past as it shapes how and who we are today. Following the story of a set of identical twins, growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything else too. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

My Sister The Serial Killer – OyinKan Braithwaite

 

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One for the crime novel enthusiasts among us. My Sister The Serial Killer, as you can guess, follows the story of sibling loyalty, and the lengths some will go to to protect those closest to them. The good-reads summary reads:

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other.

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