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Book Recommendations: Books From Black Authors

Books | Photo by Ariel Parker | The Wright State Guardian

For Black History Month, we want to celebrate Black authors and their contribution to literature. Here are just a few recommendations to get started! 

“The Mothers” by Brit Bennett 

Bennett’s debut novel was an immediate hit upon its release. This beautifully written novel is set in a tight-knit community in Southern California and follows Nadia and Luke’s short romance one summer. But after one fateful decision leaves a lasting impact on their lives and their community, they move through their lives wondering where they would be now if such a life-altering decision had not happened.  

“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi 

This is another debut novel that took the literary world by storm. We are first introduced to two half-sisters in 18th century Ghana. They are born in different villages and follow them as one is married off to an Englishman and the other sold off into the booming slave trade. Spanning hundreds of years and multiple generations, we follow their descendants living very different lives.  

“How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?” by N. K. Jemisin 

Jemisin is well-known for her books about gods walking among us, and in this collection of short stories, you can get a taste of her spectacular storytelling. Filled with speculative and sci-fi  stories with dragons, history and magic, this is a great introduction to Jemisin’s craft and imagination. One of her stories, “A City Born Great,” was also later used as the basis for her most recent release, “The City We Became.” 

“Passing” by Nella Larsen 

This Harlem Renaissance classic follows Irene, who has a successful life in Harlem, who connects with her childhood best friend, Clare, a light-skinned Black woman who is now passing for white. Clare’s decision is full of major challenges, and Irene is worried when Clare begins to long for the life she might have had. 

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison  

Morrison is a well-known and loved writer, and for good reason. Not only is this one of her most popular works, but it also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, and is still taught in classrooms and universities around the world. This is an emotional and evocative work following a woman that is literally haunted by tragedy, and one that will make you stay up late in the night to read until the very last page. 

More Recommendations   

There are so many other fantastic books to pick up. If none of the above interest you, here are a few YA and middle-grade suggestions: “Pet” by Akwaeke Emezi, a middle-grade novel about a world where monsters do not exist; “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo, is a YA novel in verse that follows a Harlem teen girl trying to navigate the world; and “Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky” by Kwame Mbalia, a Rick Riordan Presents novel about a seventh-grade boy who accidentally rips a hole into another universe filled with African gods and magic! 

Ariel Parker

Contributing Writer