TBB’s Recommended Reads April 2023

Spring is just around the corner and has brought with it a new slate of incredible books to sink your teeth into.

Rosewater by Liv Little

Rosewater is Liv Little’s debut novel and teaches its reader that love and all of its accompanying struggles and joys can be right around the corner.

We join Elsie, a young, free spirited and independent woman living in South London. She spends her time looking for the joy that she assumes comes from doing what you love day in and day out. She loves to write, and aspires to be the next big thing, writing intimate and personal poetry in her journal while working long hours at a local dive bar and sleeping with her co-worker Beau. But beyond all of these little things that make life what it is for Elsie, she finds herself emotionally and physically drained at just 28 years of age.

Liv Little’s Rosewater taps into the relatable narrative of burnout at a young age feeling untethered and unsure of what’s next. She creates a character that anyone can find themselves within. Elsie is tired, not just of her low paying job that under-appreciates her, or the constant “No’s” that come from countless job interviews, Elsie is tired of being estranged from her family and she is tired of never making any money doing the things she loves. When she is suddenly evicted from her social housing, it all seems to come crashing down for Elsie as she tells herself it is bound to get better at some point. Right?. In moving in with her estranged childhood friend with nowhere else to go, Elsie begins to find the silver linings in life and really take in what she once took for granted. Elsie asks new questions like: was what I was looking for so desperately in front of me the entire time?

Publication Date: 25th April 2023
Publisher: Little Brown Paperbacks

A House for Alice by Diana Evens

A House for Alice begins with a devastating snapshot of the tragic death of the protagonist Alice’s husband Cornelius Pitt in a fire on the same night as the fire at Grenfell Tower that killed and uprooted countless lives. The family he leaves behind, both shocked by his untimely death and the corruption and negligence that caused Grenfell, begin a journey of grief and loss that brings into sharp perspective the family life that they once had, and what it will look like in the future.

Alice Pitt, now a widow, begins to question what she has left for her in London after leaving Nigeria over 50 years ago. As the call from her Homeland increases, asking her to see out her old age where she was raised, her daughters, Adel, Carol and Melissa struggle to come to terms with losing both of their parents in such quick succession and in such different ways. Their opinions vary causing conflict amongst a family that was not too long ago happy and living in harmony.

A House for Alice is a direct sequel for Diana Evans’ award winning third novel Ordinary People and revisits those characters 8 years after the events of that story. While Ordinary People began with optimism and light, A House for Alice is, at times, a devastating look into grief, family and relationships that is impossible to put down.

Publication Date: 6th April 2023
Publisher: Chatto & Windus

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa by Stephen Buoro

Andrew Aziza lives in Kontagora in Northern Nigeria with his mother Gloria and close friends Slim, Morocco and Fatima. We join the 15-year-old boy as he begins to question his heritage, the shadow colonialism casts on Nigeria and all of Africa, as well as the violence that is the direct result of it. With his teacher Zahrah and Fatima, a bright and talented girl who harbours feelings for the oblivious Andrew, he forms opinions on Black Power and what he deems The Curse of Africa.

Despite Fatima’s obvious interest, Andrew finds himself falling in love with the first white girl he sees, idolising their relationship and placing her on an unrealistic pedestal. Andrew is introduced to the difficulties of interracial relationships in a country with such an expansive history pertaining to race and over 200 ethnic groups. The topic of indigenous diversity in Nigeria paired with its violent colonial histories and differing religions across the nation is fascinating and incredibly well-executed and investigated by Stephen Buoro. The story has countless twists and turns as the mystery of the identity of Andrew’s father, a secret staunchly kept by Andrews’s mother, comes to a head, as well as the looming threat of anti-Christian rhetoric and violence growing ever closer to him. Overall, Andrew must tackle the depths of his identity and wishes for the future, while navigating life on what he believes to be a Cursed Continent. Buoro manages to pack so much heartache, joy and growth into a charming and witty package.

Publication Date: 18th April 2023
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Small Joys by Elvin James Mensah

Small Joys asks its reader to question where it is they feel most happy, and is that source constant and reliable?

We join Elvin James Mensah’s novel as Harley drops out of University in 2005 and moves back to his home in rural England. His work at a local cinema is unfulfilling and his estrangement from his father and general unhappiness in the lack of direction in his life is all becoming too much for him. Eventually his contemplation of suicide causes him to attempt to end his life, only being saved by his new roommate Muddy, a man he initially assumed he had nothing in common with.

Muddy brings a new excitement to Harley’s life that was once so dark, and despite being his polar opposite (straight, confident and happy) the two eventually forge a close friendship in the face of such a horrible situation. Muddy shows Harley the small joys that make life worth living. Complications begin to arise however when the reliance Harley has on Muddy begins to be threatened by the burdens of other friendships and associations. We meet a number of Muddy’s (and now Harley’s) friends who each, as humans do, require their own unique treatment and care that Harley struggles to keep up with. Paired with the return of an affair with a violent older man, Harley finds his precarious happiness balancing on the edge once again.

Publication Date: 11th April 2023
Publisher: Ballantine Books

It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World by Mikaela Loach

For too long, representations of climate action in the mainstream media have been white-washed, green-washed and diluted to be made compatible with capitalism.

We are living in an economic system which pursues profit above all else; harmful, oppressive systems that heavily contribute to the climate crisis, and environmental consequences that have been toned down to the masses. Tackling the climate crisis requires us to visit the roots of poverty, capitalist exploitation, police brutality and legal injustice. Climate justice offers the real possibility of huge leaps towards racial equality and collective liberation as it aims to dismantle the very foundations of these issues.

In this book, Mikaela Loach offers a fresh and radical perspective for real climate action that could drastically change the world as we know it for the benefit of us all. Written with candour and hope, It’s Not That Radical will galvanise readers to take action, offering an accessible and transformative appraisal of our circumstances to help mobilise a majority for the future of our planet.

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Ltd
Publish Date: 6 April 2023

Rediscovering Black Portraiture by Peter Brathwaite

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peter Brathwaite has thoughtfully researched and reimagined more than one hundred artworks featuring portraits of Black sitters-all posted to social media with the caption “Rediscovering #blackportraiture through#gettymuseumchallenge.”

Rediscovering Black Portraiture collects more than fifty of Brathwaite’s most intriguing re-creations. Introduced by Brathwaite and framed by contributions from experts in art history and visual culture, this fascinating book offers a nuanced look at the complexities and challenges of building identity within the African diaspora and how such forces have informed Black portraits over time. Artworks featured include The Adoration of the Magi by Georges Trubert, Portrait of an Unknown Man by Jan Mostaert, Rice n Peas by Sonia Boyce, and many more.

This volume also invites readers behind the scenes, offering a glimpse of the elegant artifice of Brathwaite’s props, setup, and process. An urgent and compelling exploration of embodiment, representation, and agency, Rediscovering Black Portraiture serves to remind us that Black subjects have been portrayed in art for nearly a millennium and that their stories demand to be told.

Publish Date: 11th April 2023

Plentiful: Vegan Jamaican Recipes to Repeat by Denai Moore

Plentiful is a Jamaican cookbook with a vegan twist.

In this first-of-its-kind book, Denai Moore pays homage to flavours and authentic dishes from her Jamaican roots whilst firmly planting them within a modern-day context. From her convenient Rice & Peas Arancini to her comforting ‘Oxtail’ Gravy & Roasted Garlic Spring Onion Mash, the recipes are approachable, engaging and downright delicious.

Jamaican food is often misrepresented, simplified and reduced to being really spicy – and MEAT heavy. Denai is a Jamaican chef who loves to make vegan food and in Plentiful she debunks this taboo about Jamaican food. With this book, she shows how exciting, diverse, and vibrant vegan flavours and Jamaican food truly are.

Publish Date: 13th April 2023
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books (UK)

Africa Is Not A Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa by Dipo Faloyin

A bright portrait of modern Africa that pushes back against harmful stereotypes to tell a more comprehensive story.

You already know these stereotypes. So often Africa is depicted simplistically as an arid red landscape of famines and safaris, uniquely plagued by poverty and strife.

In this funny and insightful book, Dipo Faloyin offers a much-needed corrective. He examines each country’s colonial heritage, and explores a wide range of subjects, from chronicling urban life in Lagos and the lively West African rivalry over who makes the best Jollof rice, to the story of democracy in seven dictatorships and the dangers of stereotypes in popular culture.

By turns intimate and political, Africa Is Not A Country brings the story of the continent towards reality, celebrating the energy and fabric of its different cultures and communities in a way that has never been done before.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date:6 April 2023

Time Come: Selected Prose by Linton Kwesi Johnson

Recognised as one of the great poets of modern times, and as a deeply respected and influential political and cultural activist and social critic, Linton Kwesi Johnson is also a prolific writer of non-fiction. In Time Come, he selects some of his most powerful prose – book and record reviews published in newspapers and magazines, lectures, obituaries and speeches – for the first time. Written over many decades, it is a body of work that draws creatively and critically on Johnson’s own Jamaican roots and on Caribbean history to explore the politics of race that continue to inform the Black British experience.

Ranging from reflections on the place of music in Caribbean and Black British culture as a creative, defiant response to oppression, to his penetrating appraisals of music and literature, and including warm tributes paid to the activists and artists who inspired him to find his own voice as a poet and compelled him to contribute to the struggle for racial equality and social justice, Time Come is a panorama of an exceptional life. A collection that ventures into memoir, it underscores Johnson’s enduring importance in Britain’s cultural history and reminds us of his brilliant, unparalleled legacy.

With an introduction by Paul Gilroy

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publish Date: 13th April 2023


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