There’s no denying that the UK publishing industry continues to marginalise the voices of people of colour. For far too long, black women have been criminally underrepresented within the book trade. Things are gradually improving though. In recent years, numerous black women have published critically acclaimed, award-winning, best-selling books; many of which highlighted important issues that were previously overlooked within public discourse.
The world needs our stories. They are valuable and people want to read/hear/listen to them.
There are so many incredible books coming out this year. Here are my top picks of books by black female authors, most of whom are British, to add to your 2019 reading lists.
1. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
In Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, Korede has become accustomed to cleaning up after her beautiful, murderous younger sister, Ayoola. Ayoola has developed an inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. Korede’s life becomes even more complicated when the man she is in love with has his eye on her sister.
I absolutely love the cover of this book. It stops me in my tracks every time I see it. I can’t wait to get stuck into this extraordinary story.
2. The Vacation Lodge II: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by D. J. Walters
D. J. Walters’ sequel to The Vacation Lodge promises to be just as steamy and thrilling as her first novel. Raven, the protagonist, makes some shocking discoveries about her fiancé as her wedding day draws closer.
I LOVE erotic fiction and wish I read more of it; especially by black British authors. This is why I was glad to have stumbled upon D. J. Walters last year. Her first novel currently has a 4.9/5 star rating on Amazon. Still not convinced? Have a listen to snippets of her books via her website.
3. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’ first novel, the internationally acclaimed The Hate U Give, was my top book of 2017, and I can’t wait to read her next one. On The Come Up follows Bri, a 16-year-old black girl who dreams of becoming a rapper.
The Hate U Give made me fall in love with Thomas’ writing and I’m certain that On The Come Up will also be a book I can’t put down. The author will be discussing her new novel at London’s Southbank Centre on 12 March as part of her UK tour. Get tickets while you still can!
Expected 7 February 2019. Pre-order now.
4. The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
This gothic novel has already received stellar praise. Sara Collins’ debut follows a formerly enslaved Jamaican woman who finds herself on trial for murder in Georgian London.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton sounds like a novel that offers something a bit different from other slave narratives that we often see in literature. This is one of the reasons I’m excited to read it.
Expected 4 April 2019. Pre-order now
5. Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt
Jennifer Eberhardt is a social psychologist and Professor at Stanford University. She is widely regarded as an expert on implicit racial bias. Her work, in particular, focuses on the associations between race and crime. We all know that unconscious racial bias is deeply ingrained within our society. Eberhardt’s upcoming book Biased will explore the widespread consequences of it and ways we can all try to combat it.
Everyone should read it because we all have unconscious biases. If you’re not yet familiar with Eberhardt’s work, I suggest watching this video where she discusses some of her research.
Expected 4 April 2019. Pre-order now
6. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Can we please take a moment to appreciate these four gorgeous covers?! Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-something Caribbean British woman working as a journalist in London, and dealing with pressures and challenges in various areas of her life. I mean… Carty-Williams clearly wrote this book for me because this is my kind of novel. Although I haven’t read Queenie yet, she already feels like a really special character. This novel has received incredible praise so far and I think it will leave a lasting impression on readers.
Expected 11 April 2019. Pre-order now
7. Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim
Well-Read Black Girl is a thriving online community that was launched in 2015 by founder Glory Edim. Over the years it has evolved into an immensely popular book club, a literary festival and now, an anthology. I’ve been following Well-Read Black Girl on social media for over a year now and it’s without a doubt one of my favourite literature-related platforms.
Ever since I found out that there would be a physical Well-Read Black Girl book coming out in the UK, I’ve been counting down the months to its publication. Featuring a collection of essays by black women writers, the anthology largely reflects on the “importance of seeing ourselves in literature”. Well-Read Black Girl recently announced that the UK edition will include an essay by Lemara Lindsay-Prince, which I’m super excited to read.
Expected 18 April 2019. Pre-order now
8. Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
I first came across Dabiri’s work a few years ago when she wrote a brilliant piece for Media Diversified titled ‘Who Stole All the Black Women from Britain?’ I’ve admired her ever since. At last year’s Black Girl Festival, I was able to get my hands on an advance reading sample of her first book, Don’t Touch My Hair. I really enjoyed the first chapter and can’t wait to read the rest of it. In this section, Dabiri touches on topics including texture discrimination, colourism, the natural hair movement and what it was like for her growing up as a mixed-race black woman in Ireland. I found her exploration of the historical and cultural significance of hair/ hairstyling within certain African and Afro-diasporic cultures extremely fascinating. These are subjects that I definitely want to research further at some point.
I have issues with the ways some people talk about afro hair (black women’s hair especially!) and get tired of seeing repetitive, simplistic discussions based on questions like ‘Is afro hair political?’ I know that this book will be fire because Dabiri is simply brilliant. And as the synopsis states, “Black hair is never ‘just hair’. Amen to that.
Expected 2 May 2019. Pre-order now
9. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Bernadine Evaristo’s much anticipated eighth book is delightfully described as “a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood.” The novel focuses on the lives of twelve characters. I look forward to meeting them all and am excited to see a fiction book like this that explores black womanhood in all of its magic and complexity.
Expected 2 May 2019. Pre-order now
10. Taking Up Space by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi
What’s interesting about Taking Up Space is that it draws upon the ongoing discussions around diversity and higher education, but specifically from a black female perspective.
Co-authors Chelsea and Ore graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2018 and decided to write a book loosely based around their personal experiences at (a predominantly white) university. It will be the second book published under Stormzy and Penguin Random House’s #Merky Books imprint. Taking Up Space will be an important book for present and future black female students and will also be essential reading for everyone else to understand the obstacles and challenges we too often face in higher education.
Expected 27 June 2019. Pre-order now
11. Slay In Your Lane Presents: Loud Black Girls, The Anthology by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené
Following the wildly popular and successful Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, we can now look forward to a SIYL anthology coming this July. Edited by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, the forthcoming anthology will feature contributions from over 20 emerging and established black British writers. The writers will discuss what matters to black women today.
Adegoke and Uviebinené did such a brilliant job with the first Slay In Your Lane book. I’m sure that this anthology will fly off the shelves and capture the attention of even more readers when it is published this summer.
Expected 4 July 2019.
12. Palette: The Beauty Bible for Women of Colour by Funmi Fetto
Vogue contributing beauty editor Funmi Fetto is blessing us all with the ultimate beauty bible for women of colour. Today, so many conversations are being had about inclusion and representation in the beauty industry. Now more than ever, brands are constantly scrambling to market themselves as inclusive and ‘catering to all’.
Palette is arriving at a great time and is sure to be a timeless book. Fetto has explained that the idea behind Palette came from being asked for advice about which products are suitable for women of colour. I really appreciate that this book will serve as a practical guide as to which products truly work for black women and women of colour. You can expect reliable, solid advice on the hair, skin, body and makeup products you should spend your coins on.
Expected 3 October 2019. Pre-order now.