TBB’s October ‘to be read’ book list

For Black History Month, we have a fantastic selection of books …

… including three releases from Jacaranda Books’ Twenty in 2020 initiative – to whet your appetite throughout October and beyond.

Loud Black Girls: 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Edited and curated by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, the authors of the highly acclaimed, ground-breaking Slay In Your Lane, this important and timely anthology features essays from the diverse voices of twenty established and emerging black British writers.

Loud Black Girls explores existing as your authentic self in a world that is constantly trying to tell you to minimise who you are. From assessing the cultural impact of Black Panther to celebrating activism in local communities. Or how asking we can teach our daughters to own their voices, or reclaiming our culinary heritage, the essays in Loud Black Girls offer funny touching, and ultimately insightful perspectives on the question: ‘Now that we’ve learnt how to slay in our lanes, what’s next?

Promising review:
A refreshingly honest, thought-provoking, and galvanising set of ideas from some of the smartest cultural thinkers of our generation – I only wish this book had been around a decade ago‘ – Otegha Uwagba, author of Little Black Book

Bursting with creative energy, intellectual firepower, cultural awareness, pride, and joy. These Loud Black Girls voices are music to my ears‘ – Rachel Edwards, author of Darling

Available to buy from Pages of Hackney and other bookshops and online retailers.

The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence

On 28th September 1985, Lee Lawrence’s mother Cherry Groce was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her Brixton home. The bullet shattered her spine and she never walked again. The shooting was the spark that triggered two days of rioting in Brixton. For Lee, who was 11 years old at the time, it was a spark that lit a flame that would burn for the next 30 years as he fought to get the police to recognise their wrongdoing.

The Louder I Will Sing is a powerful, compelling, and uplifting memoir about growing up in modern Britain as a young Black man. It’s a story of people and politics, of the underlying racism beneath many of our most important institutions, but also the positive power that hope, faith, and love can bring in response.

Promising review:
This is the story of arguably one of the most important, yet least known, events in modern British history. Lee’s journey and fight for justice are both inspiring and enraging. That it has taken this long for the story of the shooting of Cherry Groce to become properly publicly retold is in itself another tragedy. We can only hope that Britain learns from the valuable lessons contained in these pages‘ – Akala

Available to buy from Pages of Hackney and other bookshops and online retailers.

100 Great Black Britons by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne

A timely release for Black History Month, 100 Great Black Britons sees the relaunch of Patrick Vernon’s landmark campaign to focus on the role of people of African and Caribbean descent in British history.

For this 2020 update, Vernon and Osborne have also included a number of new role models and previously little-known historical figures. Each entry explores in-depth the individual’s contribution to British history – a contribution that too often has been either overlooked or dismissed.

Promising review:
Self-funded and run by a team of merely three people, Patrick Vernon’s list was a bold statement, reminding the public that the Black people of Britain are not new, nor did we simply appear post-slavery … Regardless of who occupies the list, its impact has created ripples which are still felt today, both in wider society and in Patrick’s personal life.‘ – Black History 365

Available to buy from Hive and other bookshops and online retailers

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle

Based on the true story of an eighteenth-century slave uprising, Cane Warriors centres on the teenage Moa and the challenging decisions he must make as a ‘cane warrior’ fighting for freedom from the Jamaican plantations.

Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica, 1760. Moa is fourteen, and the only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . .

Promising review:
Alex Wheatle writes from a place of honesty and passion with the full knowledge and understanding that change can only happen through words and actions” – Steve McQueen

It’s passionate, important and Wheatle’s best novel yet” – Children’s Book of the Week, The Times

Available to buy from Hive and other bookshops and online retailers.

A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and Resistance by Stella Dadzie

Enslaved West Indian women had few opportunities to record their stories for posterity. Yet we find they managed to leave umpteen small clues for us to unravel thus earning their place in history.

A Kick in the Belly follows the evidence and finds women played a distinctly female role in the development of a culture of slave resistance – a role that was not just central, but downright dynamic. From the coffle-line to the Great House, enslaved women found ways of fighting back that beggar belief.

Whether responding to the horrendous conditions of plantation life, the sadistic vagaries of their captors, or the ‘peculiar burdens of their sex‘, their collective sanity relied on a highly subversive adaptation of the values and cultures they smuggled with them naked from different parts of Africa. By sustaining or adapting remembered cultural practices, they ensured that the lives of chattel slaves retained both meaning and purpose.

Promising review:
In clear, accessible prose, this book upturns versions of the past that privilege his-story, revealing a more complex and many-layered past, one in which enslaved women were central to the struggle for freedom.’ – Suzanne Scafe, co-author of The Heart of the Race

Available to buy from Verso Books and other bookshops and online retailers.

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Growing up in a small Ugandan village, Kirabo is surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother, her aunts, her friends, and cousins are all desperate for her to conform, but Kirabo is inquisitive, headstrong, and determined. Up until now, she has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of this prosperous extended family, but as she enters her teenage years, she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. The First Woman follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.

Jennifer Makumbi has written a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism.

Promising review:
The First Woman is captivating, wise, humorous, and tender: Makumbi has come back stronger than ever. This is a tale about Kirabo and her family, and her place in the world as she searches for her mother and a true sense of belonging. But most of all, this is a book about the stories that define us, and those we tell to redefine ourselves. A riveting read.” – Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

Available to buy from Pages of Hackney and other bookshops and online retailers.

Love again by Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm

Published as part of Jacaranda’s Twenty in 2020 initiative, Love Again tells the story of Honey Fontaine who has spent much of her adult life dodging her mother’s attempts to marry her off and has had enough. Her mother, however, is determined to find a similar suitable match for her daughter, much to Honey’s distress.

At her wit’s end, Honey decides to enlist the support of Ashley Elliot, a well-off club owner and determined flirt, who will pretend to be Honey’s man. Ashley is not Honey’s usual type, but she finds herself increasingly drawn to him and what a relationship with him could be like.

When the latest of her mother’s picks prove to be unexpectedly attractive to her, Honey finds herself suddenly forced to have to make a choice. Stability or passion, comfort, or risk? What will Honey do?

Available to buy from Jacaranda Books.

Symona’s Still Single by Lisa Bent

Another release from Jacaranda’s Twenty in 2020 initiative is Lisa Bent’s Symona’s Still Single, an exploration into the trials and tribulations of dating in your mid-thirties from a Black woman’s perspective in London.

Symona Brown is a 37-year old Jamaican British woman living in South London looking for her Mr. Right whilst her biological clock loudly ticks on. She announces to her close girlfriends after a boozy Sunday brunch, that she is ready to start actively dating.

After being consciously single for a number of years, Symona remembers what worked and what definitely did not in the dating arena. This time, she knows who she is and what she wants. As Symona reflects through her memories from one Mr. to another, she reveals her sensual, hilarious, and downright frustrating encounters. She finds herself asking, “What does it mean to be a Black woman trying to exist, date, and find love?” In her pursuit of love, she learns new lessons and different answers. Will these new revelations get her what she wants?

Symona’s Still Single is a bold and insightful narrative that will give Black women hope and the courage to self-explore in a dating world that begins with self-love.

Promising review:
Lisa Bent is a truly original talent who, in writing Symona’s Still Single, has given us a keen insight into a world rarely imagined in fiction, that of the modern British Black woman.” – Valerie Brandes, founder Jacaranda books

Available to buy from Jacaranda Books.

Are We Home Yet? By Katy Massey

Are We Home Yet? is a moving memoir of a mixed-race woman from a working-class community in Leeds and her outspoken French-Canadian mother. Spanning the years from 1935 to 2010, the novel explores issues of shame, immigration, and class, the pair share their stories but struggle to understand each other’s choices in a fast-changing world.

As a girl, Katy accidentally discovers her mother is earning money as a sex worker at the family home, rupturing their bond. As an adult, Katy contends with grief and mental health challenges before she and her mother attempt to heal their relationship.

From Canada to Leeds and Jamaica, and exploring shame, immigration, and class, the pair share their stories but struggle to understand each other’s choices in a fast-changing world.

Published as part of the Twenty in 2020 initiative by Jacaranda Books.

Available to buy from Jacaranda Books.


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