It's that time of year when good vibes and great books come together, so here’s a list of intriguing books by Black authors to add to your reading list.
Zakiya Dalila Harris's book, now a successful HULU series, follows Nella Rogers, a Black editorial associate at Wagner Books. Wagner is a traditional publishing company with a homogeneous legion of smarmy, white Ivy Leaguers. Nella, talented but undervalued, is passed over for yet another promotion while her white co-workers feign inclusivity and wokeness. When Hazel, another Black woman, joins the team, Nella mentors her, and they develop a close bond. But Nella's career takes a hit when she gives honest, brutal feedback on a racist manuscript from one of Wagner’s cherished white male veterans.
The story may leave readers in a cloud of anxiety and asking themselves, "is this really happening?”
“The Other Black Girl” highlights challenges facing Black women in professional environments, including the whitewashed U.S. publishing industry, and it does it while cavorting into the unsettling realm of mysticism and the occult.
The story may leave readers in a cloud of anxiety and asking themselves "is this really happening?” Expect to be caught off-guard.
“The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts,” by Soraya Palmer
Soraya Palmer's ambitious debut takes you to an Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to the lives of two young sisters, Sasha, and Zora. Their father is a violent drunk embedded in an affair with another woman while their mother battles life-altering neurological disorders. The sisters’ lives change drastically when Sasha attends college and discovers she's attracted to women and Zora labors to become a passionate writer. The family, riven by distance, reconnects over their shared stories of the Ashanti people.
This debut novel features mythical creatures in a vibrant and unpredictable world and celebrates sisterhood while exploring the seething power of centuries-old cultural legend.
“An Autobiography of Skin: A Novel,” by Lakiesha Carr
Lakiesha Carr’s compelling and timely book caresses the lives of three Black women and showcases strength and wonder, but with a dusty pinch of grind.
Nettie, in the novel's first section, is mired by mid-life regret. Her despair grows with her mother's passing and her persistent lack of connection with her husband, a sex industry worker. The second section is about Maya, a woman who fears for her children in a nation of police shootings and social indifference, even as she herself metes out family abuse. The third section involves Ketinah, Maya's “forever friend,” who weaves the first two tales together in a tapestry of ghost stories, history and the regret of lost love.
Both Nettie and Maya must protect the secrets of their lifestyle, namely their husbands’ controversial careers, while Maya mistreats her children in a generational life-cycle of cruelty spanning generations. Characters are badgered both by history and current events, but the story unfolds to a powerful, inspiring conclusion to satisfy the soul.
“Black Candle Women: A Read with Jenna Pick,” by Diane Marie Brown
This book shadows the beleaguered Montrose family, whose women have a history of loving hard and losing horribly. Three particularly strong women, Augusta, Victoria, and Willow, live in California but are haunted by their persistent Louisiana roots.
Augusta's and Victoria's husbands both suffer tragic deaths, which seemingly confirms the suspicion of an enduring family curse and pushes Willow to avoid love altogether. The tendrils of a 1950s-era New Orleans voodoo hex may be piercing the margins of the modern world, and it drives the Montrose women to venture back to New Orleans to confront an ugly, shadow-plagued past.
“Black Women Writers at Work,” by Claudia Tate
Storyteller interviews, including Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, and many others offer a rare glimpse into the world of Black women writers, revealing their humble beginnings, literary ascent and their historical impact. The dialogue delivers priceless insight into the minds and motivation of Black Women Writers and defies the notion that Black women must be docile and innocuous to create successful art.
The book shows us that we don't need permission to write our truths. Through their own words, Black Women Writers have made the planet a more compassionate and compelling place. Every time a Black Woman Writer breathes life into the written word, they give voice to everyone who dwells in an imperfect life of clutter, pain and disorder. We write, live, and unwind so the world can acknowledge its own imperfection and strive for a better tomorrow.
“Reggie and Delilah's Year of Falling,” by Elise Bryant
Who doesn’t adore a tale of young love? Elise Bryant’s captivating story centers on two endearing characters: Delilah, who has overcome enough of her nagging anxiety to be the front-woman for a punk band, and Reggie, a lovable sweetheart who spends his free time recreating racially inclusive D&D game campaigns.
Delilah and Reggie both struggle to find their individuality and voice despite skepticism and misunderstanding from family and friends. Even their own relationship is not immune to their ignorance of each other's identity and personal quirks.
A heartwarming tale of two young people meeting by chance, the characters take their sweet time coaxing and cultivating a fragile union, but without miring the novel’s pace. The relationship feels genuine and natural, and the two support each other despite their challenges, including Reggie’s dyslexia and Delilah’s incapacitating migraines.
The book touches on themes of breaking barriers and celebrating Black love while convincingly depicting the struggles of people with disabilities.