From allegorical fiction to football, the justice system, and romance, there’s something for everyone in this spring.
This curated list includes the new novels of award-winning writers Okwiri Oduor and NoViolet Bulawaya, informative and insightful non-fiction, as well as the debut novels of Moses McKenzie and Jendella Benson.
Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson
This heart-warming debut novel is a story of loss, love and family chaos. When Glory returns to Peckham from LA to mourn her father’s passing, she decides to stay in London to try repair the family left behind. However, when she unearths a huge family secret, Glory risks losing everyone she truly cares about in her pursuit of the truth.
Jendella Benson is the Head of Editorial at Black Ballad – the award-winning digital platform for Black British women. She hosts the podcast ‘Black Ballad Presents: The Survival Guide’. Her self-published project Young Motherhood was covered in publications across the world in 2017. Young Motherhood is a project with the aim to smash the stereotypes about young mums.
Praise for Hope and Glory –
‘A sweeping, rich tale that explores family, secrets, loss, love and redemption within the context of a tessellation of cultures – written with a beautiful texture, Benson pulls you in to a deftly-woven story with tautly-written sentences, and before you know it you find yourself in too deep to get out, too deep to want to get out, wanting to know more.‘ – Bolu Babalola, author of Love in Colour
‘Jendella Benson has drawn such a compelling world that Hope and Glory, the book and the characters themselves, stayed with me long after I’d turned the final pages.’ – Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie
Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor
Okwiri Oduor’s debut novel is set at the intersection of the human and spirit worlds. Interweaving Kenyan myth and folklore, Things They Lost follows the wandering spirit Ayosa as she finds her way in the mortal realm. A curse hangs over the women in Ayosa’s family, and when she is offered an alternative life, one that would involve leaving Nabumbo Promise behind, Ayosa must decide how much she owes her fearsome mother.
Oduor won the 2014 Caine Prize, a literary award for an original short story by an African writer published in the English language, with her story “My Father’s Head”. In the same year, she was named as one of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers under the age of 40 on the Hay Festival’s Africa39 list.
Praise for Things They Lost:
‘A wondrous newborn – mewling, dewy, twinkling, gurgling – a tale steeped in the acrid surrealism of childhood, populated by wicked wraiths and held together by the vicious spell mothers can cast on their daughters.‘ – Leila Aboulela, author of Bird Summons
‘From the start, Oduor – a winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, among other honours – broadcasts her tremendous talents… Come for the beguiling narrative, and stay for the rich, evocative language.‘ – Vulture
Things They Lost will be published on 14th April 2022. It is available for pre-order on Hive and other online retailers and bookshops.
Africa Is Not A Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa by Dipo Faloyin
In this funny and insightful book, Faloyin seeks to dispel myths and negative stereotypes that are harmful and simplistic. 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.
Faloyin examines each country’s colonial heritage and explores a wide range of subjects, not only asserting that Africa is not a country but that the continent is so much more than the dangerous stereotypes that popular culture perpetrates.
Dipo Faloyin is a writer and senior editor at VICE. His writing has a specific focus on race, culture, and identity across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Praise for Africa Is Not a Country:
‘This book should be on the curriculum.’ – Nikki May, author of Wahala
A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped the Modern Game by Calum Jacobs
The collection of essays features interviews with Ian Wright, Anita Asante and Andy Cole and includes contributions from authors Musa Okwonga and Aniefiok Ekpoudom. Rather than framing the collection around the trauma and oppression that often overshadows the contribution of Black footballers in the UK, A New Formation analyses the intersections between football and the wider Black British culture. By engaging with these subtler connections between football and Black cultural expression, A New Formation reveals the vibrancy and nuance of contemporary Black life in Britain.
Calum Jacobs is a writer, editor and creative practitioner from South London. He launched CARICOM Magazine in 2017, a print and online platform dedicated to discussing football and broader culture through a Black lens.
Praise for A New Formation:
‘A New Formation is quite simply one of the most important football books ever written… A New Formation tells new stories, forgotten stories, undervalued stories, and does so with heart and humanity and humour. It’s our game, as narrated by the people who love it.‘ – Jonathan Liew
A New Formation will be published on 21st April 2022. It is available for pre-order on Hive and other online retailers and bookshops.
An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie
Sayon Hughes, a young Black man from Bristol, dreams of a world far removed from the one in which he was raised. Growing up, Sayon found respite from the chaos of his environment in the love and loyalty of his brother-in-arms, Cuba; in the example of his cousin Hakim, a man once known as the most infamous drug-dealer in their neighbourhood, now a proselytising Muslim; and in the tenderness of his girl, Shona, whose own sense of purpose galvanises Sayon’s.
In return, Sayon wants to give the people he loves the world: a house atop a grand hill in the most affluent area of the city, a home in which they can forever find joy and safety. But after an altercation in which a boy is killed, Sayon finds his loyalties torn and his dream of a better life in peril.
Moses McKenzie is a debut novelist based in Bristol. Production company Pulse Films has optioned the rights to adept the upcoming novel for television.
Praise for An Olive Grove in Ends:
‘A remarkable debut, bristling with sharp prose and daring originality’ – Nathan Harris, author of The Sweetness of Water
‘A phenomenally good novel, tense and thrilling and complex, with breath-stealing moments on every page’ – Donal Ryan, author of Strange Flowers
An Olive Grove in Ends will be published on 28th April 2022. It is available for pre-order on Hive and other online retailers and bookshops.
Do Right And Fear No One by Leslie Thomas QC
For over thirty years, Leslie Thomas QC has been involved in some of the most significant and high-profile cases in the UK. Do Right And Fear No One is an unforgettable account of an idealistic and outspoken lawyer’s coming of age as a Black man in London, and a powerful portrait of the lives of those he has fought for. He set the precedent for the first unlawful killing decision against a serving police officer in the case of Azelle Rodney in 2013 and acted as the lead counsel to the family of Mark Duggan in 2016.
In this personal record of his experiences working as a Black barrister in London, from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to the deaths of Christi and Bobby Shepherd by carbon monoxide poisoning and the Birmingham Pub Bombings, Thomas presents a blistering argument for a level playing field in the pursuit of justice.
Praise for Do Right and Fear No One:
‘Leslie has done more for the families of those who die in custody or at the hands of the police than any other single lawyer.’ – Louise Christian, of Christian Khan solicitors
Do Right and Fear No One will be published on 14th April 2022. It is available for pre-order on Hive and other online retailers and bookshops.
Glory by NoViolet BulawayO
An allegoric triumph, Glory is the story of an uprising, told by a bold, vivid chorus of animal voices that helps us see our human world more clearly. The novel follows this community of animals from pre-colonial bliss to colonisation, a War of Liberation and new leadership. Robert Mugabe’s rule is allegorised through the charismatic horse who holds power for forty years.
NoViolet Bulawayo won the Caine Prize in 2011 with her short story “Hitting Budapest”, which became the opening chapter of her novel We Need New Names. This debut was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. Glory is NoViolet Bulawayo’s second novel.
Praise for Glory:
‘Spellbinding . . . This social media-saturated narrative, interwoven with the oral storytelling techniques of idiomatic speech and call and response, makes Bulawayo feel like a pioneer . . . Glory, with a flicker of hope at its end, is allegory, satire and fairytale rolled into one mighty punch’ — Sarah Ladipo Manyika, The Guardian
‘A brilliant, 400-page post-colonial fable . . . Bulawayo is really out-Orwelling Orwell. This is a satire with sharper teeth, angrier, and also very, very funny.’ – Violet Kupersmith, The New York Times Book Review
Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
So, Yinka. Tell me. Where is your huzband? Ah, ah. You’re thirty-one now!
This witty debut by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn follows a woman looking for love. If that wasn’t hard enough, she also has a mother and a whole host of aunties who are very concerned with her prospects. When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka works on finding a date for the wedding.
Blackburn is a British-Nigerian woman, who wrote this novel alongside working at Carers UK. She won the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition with an early draft of Yinka in 2019, and her hotly anticipated debut novel is an uplifting tale of family, romance, and self-acceptance.
Praise for Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?:
‘A total joy to read-hilarious, insightful, and so uplifting. Yinka is the most lovable character I’ve come across in a long time.’- Beth O’Leary
‘Such a warm, funny and relatable book‘ – Jendella Benson
Your Show by Ashley Hickson-Lovence
This novel reimagines the life of the Premier League’s first and only black referee Uriah Rennie. Confronted with tensions and prejudices, his every move is watched, analysed and commented on. In this fictionalised account of his life told in the second-person, Hickson-Lovence recreates moments of controversy on and off the pitch. Your Show is an extraordinary novel which charts one man’s pioneering efforts to make it, against the odds, to the very top of his profession and beyond.
Ashley Hickson-Lovence is an author, PhD student and Lecturer of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. His debut novel The 392 was released in 2019.
Praise for Your Show:
‘Here is something entirely new, and brilliant: a novel-as-biography… It will linger with you long after you finish.‘ – Andrew Macmillan
‘A thrilling and emotional look at the legacy of one of football’s most compelling heroes… wonderfully inventive.‘ – Jeffrey Boakye