TBB’s January to be read list

Even though the new year has got off to a pretty depressing start with yet another national lockdown …

The good news is that there are some fantastic books by Black British authors due to be published this year. Here’s a selection of books out this month.

We Are all Birds of Uganda by Hafsar Zayyan

This debut by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, We Are All Birds of Uganda explores racial tensions, generational divides, and what it means to belong.

Moving between two continents over a troubled century, the first half of the novel is set in Uganda during the 1960s. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

The novel then shifts to present-day London, where Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past, he never knew.

Promising review: ‘A remarkably accomplished, polished debut’ – Malorie Blackman

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Biracial Britain: A Different Way of Looking at Race by Remi Adekoya

Mixed-race is the fastest-growing minority group in Britain. However, race continues to be discussed in a binary fashion: black or white, we and they, us and them. Mixed-race is not treated as a unique identity, but rather as an offshoot of other more familiar identities i.e. ‘if you’re not white, you’re black’. Therefore, where does a mixed-race person fit? Stuck in the middle of these conflicts are individuals trying to survive and thrive.

Promising review: ‘In this ground-breaking book, Polish-Nigerian author Remi Adekoya paints a nuanced and refreshingly honest picture of the mixed-race experience in Britain…Interspersed with Adekoya’s engaging reflections of his own upbringing, crucially, Adekoya seeks to argue that being mixed race is a unique identity in and of itself.’ ― Cosmopolitan

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Black Girl Finance by Selina Flavius

Written to address the unique difficulties Black women face due to the gender and ethnicity pay gaps, Selina Flavius challenges money mindsets and teaches key skills, such as how to set up an emergency fund and where to start with budgeting, investing, and saving. Black Girl Finance provides a safe space for a community of unapologetic, ambitious, money-minded women to get real about their finances.

Packed with tips, tricks, and tools, as well as statistics, personal stories, goal-setting exercises, and straight-talking advice, Black Girl Finance will be your go-to helping hand to making your financial goals a reality.

Promising reviews: ‘Reading Black Girl Finance has given me a thorough reminder of what I need to do to get my finances in tip-top shape for 2021. It’s a guide I keep close to me’ – Bola Sol

A quick, easy read with practical advice and tips’ – Elizabeth Ogabi, founder of For Working Ladies

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How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers. For Wilma, it’s the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result. When Lala grows up, for her the story offers hope – of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is the powerful, intense story set on a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence, and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive.

Promising reviews: ‘A hard-hitting and unflinching novel from a bold new writer’ Bernardine Evaristo

A bright new star. Cherie Jones draws us with skill, delicacy and glorious style into a vortex of Bajan lives on the edge‘ Diana Evans

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A River Called Time by Courttia Newland

The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite. Years later Markriss Denny is granted the opportunity to live inside the Ark after proving his worth. However, his path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret and the dark reality of life inside the Ark.

Courttia Newland’s long-awaited novel is set in a time where slavery and colonialism never happened and is a timely exploration of social inequality, love, and the search for the truth.

Promising review: ‘A River Called Time is a real gem of a book . . . There are so many brilliant parallels drawn between the world we live in as well as gentle prods towards the reality we could create…An excellent, beautiful read that will make you think while taking your breath away’ – Dorothy Koomson

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