I’ve really been looking forward to writing this month’s list because June is lit with some exciting.
We have much anticipated reads from Zakiya Dalila Harris’s debut The Other Black Girl to Dapo Adeola’s new book Hey You. Whether you are living it up or taking it slow and cautious post-lockdown, be sure to add these gems to your to be read pile.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Described as Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada, Zakiya Dalila Harris’s electric debut is about the tension between two young Black women who work together in the starkly white environment of book publishing.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk telling her to leave the company… Could Hazel be behind these hostile messages? As Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.
Full of twists and turns, The Other Black Girl is a whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
‘The year’s most buzzed-about debut more than lives up to the hype…a smart riff on Black horror, the publishing world, and the realities of being Black and female’ – i
‘This is the funniest, wildest, deepest, most thought-provoking ride of a book’ – Attica Locke
Assembly by Natasha Brown
Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.
A Black British woman prepares to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she considers the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?
Assembly, a debut novel by Natasha Brown is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers. And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life.
‘Natasha Brown’s exquisite prose, daring structure and understated elegance are utterly captivating. She is a stunning new writer.’ – Bernardine Evaristo, author of the Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other
‘Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society: how it has poisoned even our language, making its necessary dismantling almost the stuff of dreams. I take hope from Assembly, not just for our literature but also for our slow awakening.’ – Diana Evans, author of the Women’s Prize-shortlisted Ordinary People
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Welcome to Niveus Private Academy where money paves the hallways and the students are never less than perfect. Until an anonymous texter, Aces brings two students’ dark secrets to light.
Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…
‘This is a phenomenal debut from an absolutely gifted writer. Compelling. Alluring. Shocking. Ace of Spades will have you on the edge of your seat. Faridah Abike-Iyimide is one to watch.’ – Melissa Cummings-Quarry and Natalie A. Carter, co-founders of The Black Girls Book Club
Hey You by Dapo Adeola
This groundbreaking picture book addresses – honestly, yet hopefully – the experiences Black children face growing up with systemic racism, as well as providing hope for the future, delivering a powerful message to a new generation of dreamers.
Remember to dream your own dreams
Love your beautiful skin
You always have a choice
Written by award-winning illustrator Dapo Adeola, Hey You is brought to life by some of the most exciting Black illustration talents working today. It’s a lyrical, inspirational exploration of growing up Black with a message that is both urgent and timeless – and offers a rich and rewarding reading experience for every child.
Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs by Jeffrey Boakye, illustrated by Ngadi Smart
Music can carry the stories of history like a message in a bottle.
Structured around a playlist of twenty-eight songs by Black British musicians, Musical Truth is a history book with a twist. Tracking some of the key shifts in modern British history, this book explores the emotional impact of the songs and the artists who performed them.
Redefining British history, the Empire, and postcolonialism, Musical Truth invites children, teens, and adults to think again about the narratives and key moments in history taught up to now. This is the book for schools wanting to diversify and decolonise the curriculum.
All the books mentioned in this list are available from Hive and other online retailers and bookstores.