REVIEWS

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long: A Critical Summary

YA, immigration

My Darling from the Lions is a remarkable debut collection with plenty to say and the ability to say it in a unique, witty, and fresh manner.

Real and riveting, In Every Mirror She's Black is the perfect read

upmarket, debut

Solitude is the real story of In Every Mirror She’s Black, a unique distillation of commercial and literary fiction that ultimately hits like a tragedy.

The Go-Between: An upper-class immigration story about race and place

YA, immigration

Veronica Chambers offers a peek into the story of rich Mexican immigrants and how they find out that, moneyed or not, they cannot shed the stain of their origins.

Travelling While Black opens readers’ eyes to a unique conversation on what it means to travel in this disoriented world

travel, non-fiction

Nanjala Nyabola offers an insightful look into how travel intersects with topics like migration, identity and the freedom to move.

Black Girl Finance: Let's Talk Money offers us the vital tools we need for better financial well-being

self-help, finance

As a 23-year-old woman from a black single-parent household, Black Girl Finance finally made me feel seen.

To love is to see and to be loved is to be seen: Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola

short stories, literary

Love in Colour makes you question your definition of love. It challenges you to be loved loudly and unashamedly.

Shadow Forward: A Review of My Monticello

short stories, literary

My Monticello pulsates the contemporary moment’s terror and uncertainty. Who and what are we the product of, and what is the future of this current birthing?

Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up is a letter to the younger you and a map for the next generation

self-help

This is a true ode of love to Black girlhood. You may laugh, you may tear up a little, and you just might remember lessons from your younger self.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen lays bare the internal woes of existing as a Black woman in the world

non-fiction, self-help

As a trauma-informed therapist, it is wonderful to see the work I do affirmed by another Black woman.

Tamara Winfrey Harris gives encouragement to Black girls at the time they need it the most

self-help

Have you ever read a book and just knew that it was going to be an experience you would remember forever?

A student's published diary moves the conversation about anti-Blackness in the education system forward

non-fiction, coming-of-age

Habiba Cooper Diallo wrote much of #BlackInSchool during her final two years of high school in Canada.

After a 20-year publishing hiatus, Gayl Jones is back with a heady historical fiction

historical

After publishing to great acclaim in the 1980s and 1990s, Gayl Jones disappeared from the public eye.

Home is Not a Country: A novel-in-verse about identity, belonging, and the true meaning of home

verse novel, literary

Home is Not a Country, by award-winning poet Safia Elhillo, is a captivating novel-in-verse about identity and belonging in post-9/11 America.

Tami Charles explores the music industry's dark side

verse novel, YA

A fast-paced story about the loss of innocence and the dangers lurking in the shadows of the music industry, Muted leaves you thinking long after you’re done reading.

The first-ever title originally written in an African language longlisted for the Booker

literary, epic

A modern take on the origin story of Kenya’s Gĩkũyũ people, The Perfect Nine is one of those rare books about history that has, itself, made history.

Nadifa Mohamed centres humanity in the midst of tragedy and injustice

historical, crime

The Fortune Men is a historical fiction set in 1950s Cardiff that explores the real and distressing story of Mahmood Mattan, the last man to be hanged in Wales.

A stunning legal thriller with a medical conspiracy that will keep you on the edge of your seat

legal thriller, debut

While Justice Sleeps follows Avery, a law clerk who’s just been made power of attorney over the Supreme Court judge she serves.

Accra Noir: Crime in a city of stories, legends, and allegories

crime, short stories

Edited by Nana-Ama Danquah, Accra Noir’s writers spin a complex and fantastical web of love, intrigue, drama, and crime.

Prolific romance author Alyssa Cole delivers a chilling thriller about gentrification

domestic thriller

We are asphyxiated in the protagonist’s psyche as forcefully as Black residents are being plucked out of Gifford Place.

Addis Ababa Noir: A dark, gritty collection of short stories set in the shadow of the city

crime, short stories

Edited by Maaza Mengiste, this Akashic Books anthology which is being reissued by Cassava Republic Press this summer comprises the work of some of Ethiopia’s most talented writers.

A Past That Breathes: How a murder case against a Black man sparks interest in the unjust system

legal thriller, debut

In the late 1990s, a young musician is found murdered in her Los Angeles apartment and her ex-boyfriend is arrested on suspicion of murder.

Deadly Sacrifice brings us the first Black female police detective in UK fiction

thriller, debut

A unique thriller that dives deep into the world of human trafficking and African ritual sacrifices, Deadly Sacrifice is based on a true 2001 news story.

Chibundu Onuzo's third novel, Sankofa, comes at the right time

literary, mystery

Following The Spider King’s Daughter and Welcome to Lagos, Sankofa marks a departure from Lagosian life and tells the story of a mixed race middle-aged woman.

Dead Dead Girls: A dark serial killer thriller set in 1920s Harlem

historical, mystery

Despite the glitz, glamour and Gatsby-like parties that we know the 1920s for, Dead Dead Girls presents a darker side of the Roaring Twenties era.

The Booker-nominated Black Moses is a damning portrait of 80s Congo-Brazzaville

coming-of-age, literary

Longlisted for the Man Booker International, Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses zeroes in on corruption in late 1970s Congo-Brazzaville.

The Girl with the Louding Voice gives voice to the silenced

coming-of-age, vernacular

The Girl with the Louding Voice gives voice to the silenced and is a timeless story about a strong girl chasing her dreams.

The Death of Vivek Oji shows us the possibility of queer love

coming-of-age, queer

As always, Akwaeke Emezi highlights the fallibility of social perception and the limits of what we think we know.

Bernardine Evaristo cuts her teeth on a fun verse novel

historical, verse novel

The Emperor’s Babe is an irreverent and salacious romp that merges together tradition and contemporaneity in a startlingly unique way.

Maame Blue's debut romance is a breathtaking love letter to diaspora

romance, coming-of-age

This astonishing debut is a tender portrait of diasporic community showcasing the resilience of love across time and space.

Hari Ziyad's debut memoir is a perfect blend of the personal and the political

coming-of-age, theory

Black Boy Out of Time is a testament to the ways in which Black authors re-craft genre categories that are not truly interested in telling our stories.

A Black British exposé of Britain's most prestigious school and the rotten system it heads

memoir, coming-of-age

Musa Okwonga unveils the multiple faces of British racism and traces how they are intricately linked in a system rigged for Eton’s white, upper-class graduates.

The winner of the 2020 Jhalak Prize is a pioneering travelogue about continental Black Europe

memoir, travel

Any discussion of Afropean should begin by acknowledging that it is pioneering, and certainly so within the Anglophone literary tradition.

Selenis Leyva co-authors a memoir with her trans sister

memoir, queer

Many know Selenis Leyva from Orange Is the New Black where she plays inmate Gloria Mendoza. Fewer know that she and her sister, Marizol, co-authored a powerful memoir.

Katy Massey debuts with a memoir about growing up mixed race in Thatcher-era Leeds

memoir, coming-of-age

Part of Jacaranda’s historic initiative to publish 20 Black British voices in 2020, Are We Home Yet? reveals another face of Black Britishness.

Parsing Freedom: A Review of Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie

historical, coming-of-age

Libertie is a novel of ideas that grapples with the meaning of freedom in a violently anti-Black and colorist world.

Homegoing provides an African response to the transatlantic slave trade

historical fiction, debut

What sells many on Homegoing is how Yaa Gyasi insists upon something, palpable and yet elusive, that the ugly circumstances of history cannot lay claim to.

Daughters of the Stone is a pioneering debut in Afro-Puerto Rican historical fiction

historical fiction, debut

A finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s debut is a pioneering example of recent trends in Black historical fiction.

Clap When You Land is a fierce verse novel based on the other 2001 plane crash

YA, verse novel

From the colourful houses of the Dominican Republic to the boroughs of New York, this 400-page rich landscape of considered and crafted verse is majestic.

Elizabeth Acevedo’s only prose novel is a culinary, coming-of-age delight

historical romance

A girl of few words who has no patience for the classroom, Emoni’s talent is in the kitchen where she makes magic with everything she touches.

Bestselling romance author Donna Hill tries her hand at historical fiction

YA, literary

What makes this historical romance necessary is its willingness to disarm the legitimacy of any politics that attempts to exist without empathy.

"A Pride and Prejudice Remix" that packs a punch

YA, romance

Pride is a deeply representative retelling that foregrounds Black people’s right to exist in a canon that has always pretended they do not.

OPEN WATER: An ethereal meditation on Black love and art

literary, debut

Don’t let generic phrases like black love fool you: this is also a novel about photography, mental health, music, and ultimately salvation.