In honour of World Book Day, I thought I’d share my top five recent reads by black female authors.
Why? Most of what I have read in my life has been by white British or American authors. Despite completing a degree in Literature, I was not exposed to a large amount of black female authors. I was deeply challenged when I woke up and realised this, and am so glad that the world is starting to realise how many incredible black female authors there are out there.
I’ve read gripping and fascinating stories set in countries I know little about, historical moments I had only heard of briefly, and from perspectives that are different from my own.
I’ve learned a lot. And I can’t wait to keep exploring all that these incredible writers have to offer. I’ve also included my next 5 books, currently on my bedside table, that I am either reading currently or are up next – I’m so excited!
Huge shout-out to my fabulous friend at That’s a bit racey blog for her brilliant suggestions of fantastic black authors. You have truly helped me to discover a wealth of incredible literature! (Go check out her blog for regular reviews & recommendations).
Here’s my top picks:
1. Girl, Woman, Other | Bernardine Evaristo
I had seen this book around for a while and knew it was one I’d enjoy. I really did love it, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. Evaristo writes numerous interlinking short stories from the perspective of many woman, mostly women of colour. I felt I was reading genuine diary entries from all of these women because they were so raw, detailed and profound. And the ending… it got me! This is one of those books I put down afterwards and literally said “wow”.
2. Half of a Yellow Sun | Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Chimamanda is one of my all time favourite authors. She writes with such compelling, brutal authority that you can’t help but be fully transformed into the lives of her characters. Half of a Yellow Sun was no exception. Set in the wake of the Nigerian Civil War (1967) it is as hard to stomach at times as you might expect. But what I love about Chimamanda’s work is that she doesn’t hold back and her work is based as closely as possible to real life events, as told often by her family and friends or her own personal experiences. I had the privilege of hearing Chimamanda speak on this book last year because it was the winner of ‘the best of the best’ Women’s Prize for Fiction. This story is her family’s story. And it’s time we all listened.
3. Queenie | Candice Carty-Williams
Ooh what a juicy one. Warning, this book is not for your family bookclub time, but it’s definitely worth a read (maybe 18+ haha). Candice writes this raw account of life as a black woman in Britain – from dating, to doctors appointments, jobs and a strong-minded Jamaican grandmother. I was challenged deeply by the inner dialogue of the main character, Queenie, in her responses to some of the things white people in her life said to her. Phrases that we hear so often, and many wrongly assume won’t offend, are seen through this black woman’s lens. Candice brilliantly unpacks the consequences of systemic and seemingly ‘subtle’ British racism.
4. The Vanishing Half | Brit Bennett
Okay so this one made me think. Not necessarily because it’s the most profound, poignant book I’ve ever read – but the plot is so surreal and dystopian, yet so realistic at the same time. The story is about two twins who are so ‘light-skinned’ they could get away with being white in a world where black people are still experiencing segregation. Bennett unpacks these possibilities in a creative way and it’s so interesting to note the psychological, societal and physical difference of being black, or white. The book follows two identical twins who end up living very different lives, each with their own complex challenges.
5. My Sister, the Serial Killer | Oyinkan Braithwaite
Despite what the title might suggest, I actually found this one to be a more light-hearted and fun read. Set in Nigeria, this novel stars two sisters who get themselves into a lot of trouble. It is packed full of drama, scandal, murder and an element of mystery. It certainly carries some deeper themes throughout, but predominantly I just loved reading this for its satiric comedy.
Okay, that’s it for my recent reads!
If you’re hungry for more like me, look up these books by black female authors below. I’m so excited to finish/read them all and will no doubt let you know what I think in another recap.
Happy World Book Day!