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Must Read Novels by Black Authors

Black Authors fiction roundup

Black authors are writing up a storm – in all fiction genres.

Whether it’s science fiction, literary fiction, or historical fiction, black authors are creating incredible stories. They are winning prizes and writing some of the most anticipated fiction this year. From spaceships hurtling through the stars to a Las Vegas celebration turned romance, there is a book here for every reader.

We’ve put together our favorite books by Black authors that belong on your bookshelf. Some of these are debut books, like Morgan Rogers Honey Girl, while others are written by familiar faces, like Angie Thomas’s Concrete Rose. Every single book on our list will have you asking for more.

Fiction

The Secret Life of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw

The secret life of Church Ladies -

This collection of nine stories explores Black women and girls from four generations as they figure out who they want to be in the world. We see the raw and tender places where they choose to follow their desires. We see these women caught between the double standards of the church and their own needs.

Fourteen-year-old Jael has a crush on the preacher’s wife. Forty-two-year-old Lyra realizes her body shame is standing between her and her new love. Caroletta’s relationships with her friends become strenuous as Y2K approaches. A serial mistress creates rules for her married lovers. These four church ladies find comfort in each other.

These four women are as seductive, vulnerable, unfaithful, and unrepentant as they choose to be. But, most importantly, they are as free as they deserve to be.

This Close to Okay, by Leesa Cross-Smith

This Close to Okay -

Tallie Clark was on her way home one October night when she saw a man standing on the edge of a bridge. As a therapist, Tallie didn’t even hesitate before pulling over, jumping out of her car, and carefully speaking to the man. Eventually, Tallie convinces him to get a cup of coffee with her. The man confesses that his name is Emmett.

Tallie and Emmett spend the weekend together. Tallie is determined to offer Emmett a safe space while she tries to help him heal. However, she has yet to tell him that helping others heal is her day-job. Over the course of the weekend, the two get closer and closer to the reason Emmett found himself on that bridge. While Tallie believes that she is the one healing Emmett, it turns out that she is in need of healing too.

Flipping between Emmett and Tallie’s perspectives, we see how these two strangers heal and grow over the course of one emotional weekend. This novel showcases how the magic of human connection can heal, uplift, and offer hope in unlikely moments.

Honey Girl, by Morgan Rogers

Honey Girl -

Grace Porter just finished her PhD in astronomy. So, this straight A, workaholic, high achiever takes to Vegas to celebrate with her friends. She had only planned on having a good time, and possibly coming home with a hangover. Turns out, she came home with a wife.

This is a huge step away from the perfect plan she and her father had for her life. She had just finished her degree, and now she might have just thrown it all away. But, being the achiever that she is, when Grace returns home to Portland, she tries to get back on track. That is, until the pressure overwhelms her and she flees.

Grace and her new wife, Yuki, decide to spend the summer in New York City. It’s here, away from the pressure from her parents and the burnout of trying to find a job, that Grace finally starts to pause. She starts to fall in love with her creative and beautiful wife. She starts to realize that she needs to face her fears, address her family scars, and start to love herself first.

Young Adult

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

This novel is the fantasy novel you’ve been waiting for. This dark feminist tale, The Gilded Ones takes readers to a world where young women are either cast aside by their village, outcasts for life, or choose to be warriors ready for battle.

Deka has never truly felt as though she has belonged in her village, but she hopes that will all change on the day of her blood ceremony. She hopes that her blood will run red and she will be accepted by the village. However, Deka’s blood runs gold, impure and unwanted. Now an outcast, Deka must face a consequence worse than death.

One night a mysterious woman comes to Deka and offers her a choice. She can either accept her fate, or choose to fight. The woman tells Deka of an emperor who has an army of gold blooded girls just like her. Called the alaki, the warrior women are near-immortals who have rare gifts. They are the only force that can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Deka knows it is a dangerous path, but she is ready to fight.

Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas

In Maverick Carter’s world, there are a few universal truths. The first is that family has always got your back. Second, King Lords blood is thicker than water. Third, a real man takes care of their family.

At 17, Mav is a real man. He takes care of his family the best way he knows how, dealing for the King Lords. This way he can help his mom, while his father, a former King Lords legend, is in prison. However, things change when Mav finds out he is going to be a father. Realizing that he can’t be a son, father, student, and dealer all at once, he takes an opportunity to get clean. The only problem is you can’t just walk away from the King Lords, especially when it’s in your blood.

One of our favorite authors, Angie Thomas returns to Garden Heights with her third book. This coming of age story, however, takes place seventeen years before The Hate You Give.

Historical Fiction

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing - Black history month

Following one family through eight generations, Gyasi takes readers on a historic journey. Beginning with two half sisters born in different Ghanaian villages. One sister will marry an Englishman and call the rooms of Cape Coast Castle her home. The other will be captured and imprisoned in the same castle before being sold into slavery.

This novel shows how the slave trade left a troubled legacy for both those that were taken and those who stayed. The two very different paths of this family show just how ingrained slavery is in our nation. Whether it’s the plantations of Mississippi or the streets of Harlem, the echoes of history are all around, generations later.

Homecoming is a PEN/Hemingway award winner, a New York Times Notable Book, and one of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year.

Wild Women and the Blues, by Denny S. Bryce

wild women and the blues - black history month

In 1925, Dreamland Cafe is the ritziest black-and-tan club in the city of Chicago. It is where you can socialize with celebs like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Dreamland offers a path to the good life! This is why Honoree Dalcour, a sharecropper’s daughter, wants to dance there.

In 2015, film student Sawyer Hayes finds himself at the bedside of Honoree. She is the only living link to Oscar Micheaux, and her stories can help Sawyer finally finish his thesis. Once she starts talking, however, Sawyer hears a story he wasn’t expecting.

Turns out that 1920s Chicago wasn’t just the home of jazz, it was awash with bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. It was a place where an ambitious woman might get in over her head. Turns out the ambitions Honoree has a story of courage and illicit passions, and this is her last chance to tell it.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev - black history month

Opal has always pushed against the grain, especially in her style and attitude. She was Afro-punk before it even existed. There was no way she was ever going to settle for a 9-to-5 job, so instead she looked to stardom. Enter singer/songwriter Neville Charles. After seeing Opal perform at an amateur night, the two agree to make music together.

in 1970s New York City, Opal finds her niche in the flamboyant and funky scene. However, everything falls apart when a rival band signs with her label. They unabashedly brandish a confederate flag during a concert and Opal doesn’t stand for it. After protest and violence, Opal is reminded that repercussions are always harder for Black women who speak their truth.

Cut to 2016. Opal and Nev decide to reunite. This offers S. Sunny Shelton the opportunity of a life time – the chance to interview her idols. However, as Sunny digs deeper into Opal and Nev’s past a new allegation arises and threatens to blow everything up.

Science Fiction

The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson

To travel the multiverse, there is only one rule – you can’t visit a world where your counterpart is alive. Cara is really good at staying alive, or at least she is in her world. In the rest of the multiverse, however, she has died at least 372 times. This makes her a perfect candidate for multiverse travel.

After being recruited to travel the multiverse to collect data, Cara finds herself living in the wealthy Wiley City. Her family, however, still lives in the wastes outside the city walls. This leaves her feeling torn between the two worlds, which is ironic for a multiverse traveler. However, her life is soon turned upside down when one of her counterparts dies mysteriously. Soon she is pulled into a plot that not only threatens her world, but the entire multiverse.

This sci-fi thriller was named one of the best books of the year by NPR. It offers everything you could want from a book in either genre, with incredible world building and nail-biting action.

An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

What would a future look like if it were modeled after the past? Solomon gracefully combines the modern technology of science fiction alongside the racial culture of Antebellum America. Can you start a civil war aboard a spaceship?

Aster lives in the slums of the HSS Matilda. She is a black sharecropper and considered one of the lowest classes aboard. While her ship may be carrying the last of humanity through outer space, the inside is organized like the pre-civil war American south.

While the ship speeds towards the mythical Promised Land, the slums of the ship are anything but. The lives of the dark-skinned sharecroppers are harsh thanks to imposed moral restrictions and indignities. Aster wants nothing more than to tear down the wall around her until there is nothing left. She might just get her chance. Will she sow the seeds of war and uncover the truth about this journey?

This is only a small selection of the recent and upcoming fiction by black authors available. No matter your favorite genre, there are amazing books written by black authors. Sometimes, you just have to seek them out to find them.

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Featured Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

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