15 Multi-Genre Recommendations
The past month has been a big learning curve for many of us living in UK. The Black Lives Matter movement has finally gained some of the traction that it deserves, and many individuals are looking inwardly to reflect on how they can better support Black Lives Matter.
One of the many ways that we can support the movement is through educating ourselves. This can be as simple to implement into our everyday lives as watching documentaries, streaming films and series made by Black creators, listening to the voices of Black people on social media and daytime TV, and reading books written by Black authors. Not only do these small tasks help us become better allies, but it shows corporations that there is an audience. An audience who want to see the talent that Black artists have reflected on bookshop shelves, on the stage in theatres, creating and starring in movies, and so much more.
There has been a huge, encouraging uptake in books surrounding the anti-racist movement. The bestseller charts in Britain reflect the determination that many UK citizens feel in ensuring that this movement does not fade away from our screens and conversations. Big literary names such as Bernardine Evaristo, Reni Eddo-Lodge and Layla F Saad have rocketed into the top spots. However, there is still so much more progress that must be made.
Earlier this month, novelist Dorothy Koomson tweeted her ‘open letter to the publishing industry’. She wrote that ‘publishing is a hostile environment for Black authors.’ She described her frustration over how Black authors often face the hurdle of being seen as a monolith for every Black person, when in reality they simply want ‘an equal opportunity, the chance to write […] as our white counterparts.’
This can only be achieved when Black authors are supported across all genres. There is a large discussion to be had about the damage that is caused by only publishing books by Black authors that cover themes such as slavery, racism, and trauma. Of course, these are extremely important and educational topics to explore, but many readers prefer romance, or comedy, or thrillers, and therefore inadvertently buy and promote a majorly white authorship. Black authors need to be represented across all genres. This is something that we can change.
Yes, it is beneficial to read non-fiction books by Black authors. However, this is not the only way that we can make a change from a literary standpoint. Seek out Black authors who write stories in the genre of mystery, rom-com, literary fiction, sci-fi, poetry, young-adult, etc. This is a small change we can make that will enhance our own reading, while also supporting the fight for equality in the publishing industry.
An Incomplete List of Multi-Genre Recommendations by Black Authors:
1. ‘The Black Flamingo’ by Dean Atta
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen. At university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A novel written in verse that celebrates youth, love, Blackness and queerness.
2. ‘The Boyfriend Project’ by Farrah Rochon
The first of three books in the feel-good series, three women become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they’ve all been duped by the same man. Covering important themes of racial and gender discrimination in the work place in a narrative of female friendship and steamy romance.
3. ‘Get A Life, Chloe Brown’ by Talia Hibbert
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal. Following a near-death experience, she comes up with a list to help her ‘get a life’. A heartwarming and hilarious story of love, sisterhood and confidence.
4. ‘Surge’ by Jay Bernard
Jay Bernard’s debut collection explores the New Cross Massacre of 1981 and the parallels it holds to the Grenfell fire. They pen a collection charged with societal criticism while remembering those lost without justice. A lyrical ode to Jamaican patois music, dancehall rhythms and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
5. ‘Search Party’ by George the Poet
A young Black poet who blends rap and spoken word, an inner-city upbringing with a prestigious Cambridge education, social consciousness with rhythm and wit. George uses his work to challenge our preconceived ideas about our society.
6. ‘The Comet’ by W.E.B. Du Bois
Written by civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, ‘The Comet’ discusses the relationship between Jim Davis (a black man) and Julia (a wealthy white woman) after a comet hits New York and unleashes toxic gases that kill everyone except them.
7. ‘Parable of the Sower’ by Octavia E. Butler
Set in 2025, where global warming, racial tension and other ills have caused a worldwide decline. One woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future while struggling with ‘hyperempathy’, a condition that makes her hyper sensitive to the pain of others.
8. ‘Queenie’ by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie Jenkins is caught between the Jamaican British family who don’t quite understand her, career chaos, and a man who she can’t get over. Equally funny and heartbreaking, Carty-Williams’ debut novel discusses racism, sexism and mental health, while keeping readers enarmoured with the lovable heroine.
9. ‘The Mother’ by Yvette Edwards
Heart-wrenching and emotional, Yvette Edwards’ novel examines youth violence and its effect on the victims’ families. ‘The Mother’ is the gripping tale of a mother’s tragic loss of her child, and then facing the man accused of murder in court.
10. ‘My Sister, The Serial Killer’ by Oyinkan Braithwaite
For Killing Eve fans: A darkly satirical narrative of a Nigerian woman’s twisted relationship with her psychopathic sister. Braithwite’s novel is an addictive page turner.
11. ‘Bluebird, Bluebird’ by Attica Locke
Darren Matthews, an African-American Texas Ranger explores the mystery that arises when a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman,wash up nearby.
Historical – Fiction
12. ‘Small Island’ by Andrea Levy
Set in the UK and Jamaica, this is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of confidence in the face of impossible barriers.
13. ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi
Each chapter told by a different perspective, ‘Homegoing’ is an ambitious and powerful novel which follows the descendants of two half-sisters in Ghana, some of the descendants stay in Ghana and some are shipped to America as enslaved persons.
14. ‘Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror’ by Eden Royce
A short story collection of creepy, spine-tingling tales rich in flavour and clever in metaphor, the horrors completely surreal or—far more unnerving—all too possible.
15. ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman
Recently adapted for a BBC series, the story is set in a dystopian society and follows Sephy and Callum, who are in love but divided because of their ethnicities. Sephy is a ‘Cross’, a member of the black ruling class and the daughter of a politician. Callum is a ‘Nought’, a white member of the underclass. Written for a YA audience, but suitable for all ages.