By: Lavanya Kathirgamanathan
Published August 19, 2022
Another day, another story.
Everyday hundreds of books are sold in bookstores from different genres across the country. Many are written for entertainment dealing with light-hearted topics that exist in fictional realities. These stories tend to be the most popular; you will find the colorful spins of these series on the shelves of most avid readers. Reading is one of the greatest and most entertaining hobbies for passing the time. Still, readers should keep in mind that a book illustrated with meaningful stories and lessons is just as interesting or educational. Books written by Black authors about Black history and the Black experience are given only one month in a year, the shortest month to express their perspectives and stories. Learning about the Black experience should be a year round experience.
As the world struggles to acknowledge Black history in more than just the month of February, Black historians, scholars, and authors wait on the sideline for everyone to catch up. Books, whether academic, non-fiction, or fictional, are the main medium for getting this message across clearly.
When it comes to fictional books, whether it be an action book, literary fiction, mystery, or graphic novel—reading stories that share insight from the perspective of marginalized groups is something that should always be encouraged.
There are three empowering books available at your local bookstore that are recommended for those who want to learn about the Black experience.
Book One: A Brief History of Seven Killings
Written by: Marlon James
Marlon James is a Jamaican writer whose career as an author began in 2005 with the publishing of his first novel, John Crow’s Devil. Before it was officially published, James’ novel was rejected
over 70 times. Since then, he has illustrated five more novels. Majority of his novels consist of a similar theme which engages in sexuality, violence, and colonialism.
In 2014, James wrote a novel called A Brief History of Seven Killings, which takes its reader through a periodic time in 1976 where there was an attempt to assassinate Singer Bob Marley. Through words, James uses real historical events, intertwined with his own imaginings to further the image of this alternative history. James uses this novel to break down the politics in the 1960s up until the 1980s in Jamaica. This timeline includes connections that deal with gang violence, drug cartel affiliation, and different perspectives of many characters within the novel. The storyline themes include sexuality, justice, and politics.
Book Two: Girl, Woman, Other
Written by: Bernardine Evaristo
Bernardine Evaristo is a British author who has written ten books in the categories of fiction, short fiction, poetry, literature, and many more. Evaristo is the first Black woman to win a Booker Prize in 2019 for her novel Girl, Woman, Other. She has also won other awards for her writing , such as Author of the Year and the Indie Book Award for fictional novels.
Girl, Woman, Other is a novel created through experiences, and, more specifically, discusses the intersections of identity from 12 different perspectives. These views are shared from British women of color, starting from their adolescence up until adulthood. These perspectives reveal different cultural aspects, economic classes, and sexual orientation/identities. Each chapter within the novel starts unfolding the different perspectives of the women. Their personal views are told through their experiences and explain how they grow up amidst the struggles. Although the characters are at different stages in their life, they can relate to one another. The main storyline themes include gender identity, womanhood, empowerment, and personal struggles.
Book Three: The Hate U Give
Written by: Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas is an American author, born in 1988, and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. At a young age, Thomas was a witness to gun violence and experienced trauma growing up with these memories. With her personal experiences, Thomas weaves a part of her perspectives into her novels.
In 2017, The Hate U Give reached number one on the New York Best Seller list. The plot illustrates a teenager, Starr Carter, grieving the death of her friend, a Black boy, who was held at gunpoint by a White police officer. Starr takes it upon herself, using the anger instilled in her, to become an advocate for Black homicide, taking her activism to national television. The storyline themes include race, injustice, community, and collective action.
Many talented Black authors make it possible for readers of all ages to understand the struggles the Black community faces. It is important to acknowledge their journey, as well as the journey they create for you to read. Reading is one of the best ways to engage your mind in valuable information and become self-aware of the injustices that may exist
Lavanya Kathirgamanathan is one of the Writers for this year’s publication at Black Voice. She’s a recent graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University, where she studied Journalism and will further her education in Human Resources at George Brown College. Lavanya has experience writing for multiple publications and has her own food blog on social media. Lavanya’s main goal as a writer for the Black Voice publication is to showcase Black excellence within the community, and in the city of Toronto.