We need Black voices. And not just on Black History Month. 🖤
The Black voice is electrifying. Bringing forth worlds we’d never imagined, from dominions in Africa to mystical spheres unheard of. Telling tales of majestic beings, kings, queens and the simple Black girl next door.
The Black voice. Telling Black stories.
We need Black literature because it shows that our stories matter. That our histories are worth sharing. That our voices are loud enough to be heard.
We need Black authors to write freely. Not just for a whole race but for the individuals. Presenting the diversity, mystery and unity of the Black voice.
We need Black children to read role models. To believe they’re fully capable of being because they 'read it in a book once'.
We need Black writers to know that their words are necessary. Keeping them writing and refining no matter how “un-marketable” the work is deemed. To stay true to that inner voice.
Black literature is not just for Black people. It's for us all. If Faith Olajuyigbe can enjoy the works of Shakespeare and Dickens - then Tom, Dick and surely Harry can enjoy the works of Achebe and Angelou.
I believe Black literature should be celebrated every day. Nonetheless, in the UK, the whole month of October is dedicated to celebrating Black things (#BlackHistoryMonth). And here I am. Celebrating too.
So, without further ado, here is my Words of Faith Reading List - The Black Voice Edition! Featuring beautiful works of fiction that showcase just how diverse and captivating Black literature is. I've included links to the books on Amazon so you can purchase any titles that catch your eye! Have a scroll and #ReadBlack! Please remember, this is not an exhaustive list, but my humble, yet vast, range of Black voices for you to enjoy. #Disclaimer.🌚
Black Literature - The Ultimate Reading List (African, Caribbean, Diaspora and more)
Meet Adunni, a teenage girl born into a rural Nigerian village.
Aged fourteen, she is a commodity, a wife, a servant.
She is also smart, funny, curious, with a spirit and joy infectious to those around her.
And despite her situation going from bad to worse, she has a plan to escape: she will find her 'louding voice' and get her education, so that she can speak up for herself - and all the girls who came before her.
As she turns enemies into friends and superiors into aides, Adunni will take you with her on a heart-breaking but inspiring journey from a small village to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, and show you that no matter the situation, there is always some joy to be found.
Chekhov's iconic characters are relocated to Nigeria in this bold new adaptation. Owerri, 1967, on the brink of the Biafran Civil War. Lolo, Nne Chukwu and Udo are grieving the loss of their father. Months before, two ruthless military coups plunged the country into chaos. Fuelled by foreign intervention, the conflict encroaches on their provincial village, and the sisters long to return to their former home in Lagos. Following his smash-hit Barber Shop Chronicles, Inua Ellams returns to the National Theatre with this heartbreaking retelling of Chekhov's classic play.
Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire in the harmattan. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart. Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance he can only hurtle towards tragedy.
From the Orange Prize-winning author of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ come twelve dazzling stories that turn a penetrating eye on the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Nigeria and the West.
In 'A Private Experience', a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she's been pushing away.
In 'Tomorrow Is Too Far', a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother's death.
The young mother at the centre of 'Imitation' finds her comfortable life threatened when she learns that her husband back in Lagos has moved his mistress into their home.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?
Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.
Queenie is a twenty-five-year-old Black woman living in south London, straddling Jamaican and British culture whilst slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper where she's constantly forced to compare herself to her white, middle-class peers, and beg to write about Black Lives Matter. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places.
As Queenie veers from one regrettable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be? - the questions that every woman today must face in a world that keeps trying to provide the answers for them.
This is Britain as you've never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told.
From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They're each looking for something - a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope.
The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer.
When Nigeria is shaken by a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family.
As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people...
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance - and Papi's secrets - the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Bolu Babalola finds the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and rewrites them with incredible new detail and vivacity in this debut collection. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines iconic Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from countries that no longer exist in our world.
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the breathtaking sequel to Tomi Adeyemi's ground-breaking West African-inspired fantasy Children of Blood and Bone.
After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could've imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.
A gruesome war results in the old gods' departure from earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters Of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.
In this radiant, highly anticipated debut, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican village.
Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate.
Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret – these are the tensions at the heart of Alexia Arthurs’ debut book about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Some stories ask big questions about the things that define a person, others explode small moments of deep significance and lasting effect. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City, How to Love a Jamaican offers a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.
This honest and provocative book recognises and celebrates the strides black women have already made, while providing practical advice for those who want to do the same and forge a better, visible future.
Illustrated with stories from best friends Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke’s own lives, and using interviews with dozens of the most successful black women in Britain, Slay In Your Lane is essential reading for a generation of black women inspired to find success in every area of their lives.
Maya Angelou's poetry - lyrical and dramatic, exuberant and playful - speaks of love, longing, partings; of Saturday night partying, and the smells and sounds of Southern cities; of freedom and shattered dreams.
What a Time to be Alone: The Slumflower's bestselling guide to why you are already enough by Chidera Eggerue
Sometimes it's not easy to find self-worth in a world that seems obsessed with telling us we're not good enough. Empowering, intimate and full of heart: this highly-anticipated debut book from the online sensation 'The Slumflower', aka Chidera Eggerue, the unstoppable force behind the ground-breaking movement #SAGGYBOOBSMATTER, is essential reading for all young women. It's time to take charge of your life.
This is the classic collection of Chinua Achebe's short fiction, written over twenty years and drawn from literary journals and magazines, to be made available to the wider public. The earliest, 'Marriage is a Private Affair' (1952), dates back to his student days at Ibadan, Nigeria, while the latest, 'Vengeful Creditor' and 'Civil Peace' (1971), are stories of the Nigerian civil war. 'Girls at War', the title story, is about the tragic effects of war on the civilian population, in particular on one girl, who sets out with high ideals which vanish as the war drags on and the need for food replaces the need for ideals.
The sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, this is a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.
Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn't want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can't quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children but his bereavement is getting in the way.
Think Like a White Man: A Satirical Guide to Conquering the World... While Black by Dr Boulé Whytelaw III and Nels Abbey
I learned early on that, for me as a black professional, to rise through the ranks and really attain power, I needed to adopt the most ruthless of mindsets possible: the mindset of the White Man who would tear your cheek from your face before he even considered turning his one first.
Welcome to a world turned upside down. One minute, Doris, from England, is playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields behind their cottage. The next, someone puts a bag over her head and she ends up in the hold of a slave-ship sailing to the New World...
Meet Zuri. She’s living a fabulous life. Great car, gorgeous apartment, well paid job.
Meet Zuri. Broken down car, an apartment she cant afford, a job she’s about to lose.
What’s a broke girl to do?
With her best friends Tami (the flighty fashion designer), Lara (the tough oil and gas executive), Adesuwa (the conservative lawyer), and Ladun (the fabulous housewife), Zuri grows a little, learns a lot and navigates her way to making better financial decisions and building wealth.
For our young ones:
'Meet Mya & Family,' is the first of 'My Young Adventures' twelve book children's book series that introduces you to our protagonist, Mya, and her amazing family. Throughout 'Meet Mya & Family,' Mya guides us through a personal account of what she does and doesn't understand from observing her family members. 'Meet Mya & Family,' introduces us to characters such as Grandma & Grandpa, Tara, Joseph, Uncle Aaron and many more; and sets us up for the amazing stories to come in the remaining eleven books. Jeannelle Brew's 'My Young Adventures' book series intends to teach children about the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and life lessons such as Money Management, Career Choice, Politics and Self-love.
Cocoa Girl (magazine)
The UK's first black girls' magazine. Cocoa is an educational tool that teaches children about black culture whilst profiling black role models. These magazines help to build a strong community for young black girls and boys who are often misrepresented by mainstream media.
I hope you've discovered some new titles to get your mind stuck into! Please do share more novels, plays, poetry books (and all sorts) by your favourite Black voices in the comments below. Feel free to discuss all things literature and remember -
Read a Black book today.
- Faithful xoxo
About the Author:
Faith Olajuyigbe is a Birmingham based writer. She has a background in drama with a focus on writing poetry, blogs and more.
Through her work, she explores themes such as love, life, faith, passion and purpose. Faith is a true creative at heart and also enjoys videography and editing.
YouTube: Faith Olajuyigbe
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