As if your reading list wasn’t long enough, here is October’s recommended reading.
Includes the debut YA novel Empress & Aniya from Queenie author, Candice Carty-Williams and this year’s most nostalgic and anticipated publication of Keisha The Sket by Jade LB.
Empress & Aniya by Candice Carter-Williams
When Empress starts at Aniya’s school, they’re not exactly best friends. But, when the two teenage girls accidentally cast a spell on their 16th birthday and end up switching bodies, they quickly learn that friendship is the most important magic of all.
Dubbed as South London’s answer to ‘Freaky Friday’, Empress and Aniya is a hilarious and moving portrayal of the importance of real friendship and the ups and downs of being a teenager.
“Infused with warmth and humour, Carty-Williams approaches tricky topics with an enviable light touch in this paean to female friendships” – The Guardian
Cosmogramma by Courttia Newland
Robots used as human proxies in a war become driven by all-too-human desires; Kill Parties roaming the streets of a post-apocalyptic world; a matriarchal race of mer creatures depend on inter-breeding with mortals to survive; mysterious seeds appear in cities across the world, growing into the likeness of people in their vicinity.
Courttia Newland’s Cosmogramma is a sharply crafted, unnerving collection of speculative fiction short stories, envisaging an alternate future as lived by the African diaspora. Through transfigured bodies and impossible encounters, Newland brings a sharp, fresh eye to age-old themes of the human capacity for greed, ambition, and self-destruction, but ultimately of our strength and resilience.
‘Newland’s work is tender but urgent, grounded but visionary. Risks don’t frighten him. These highly imaginative, often cautionary tales seem the product of a world governed by outrage, anxiety, and unease. You won’t forget them in a hurry. Nor should you.’ – Rupert Thomson
‘It’s no small feat to so immediately and repeatedly appeals to readers’ hearts and minds, and Newland’s mastery of short-format storytelling is sure to impress. Speculative fiction fans won’t be able to put this down.’ – Publishers Weekly
Keisha The Sket by Jade LB
Keisha The Sket has lived in the phones and websites of fans for decades, and now in print for the first time, this timeless coming of age story is not just a word-of-mouth sensation but also a British classic in the making.
Keisha is a girl from the ends, sharp, feisty, and ambitious. She’s also been labelled ‘top sket‘ but she’s making it work. When her childhood crush and long-time admirer, Ricardo, finally wins her over, Keisha has it all: power, a love life, and the chance for stability. But a traumatic incident and with it a whirlwind of choices threaten to define what kind of a woman she truly wants to be.
Told with the heart and soul of the inner city, with an unforgettable heroine, Keisha The Sket is a revelation of the true, raw, arousing, and tender core of British youth culture. This is the complete and defining edition with edits and additional content from the author, plus essays from other Black British writers including Candice Carty-Williams and Caleb Femi.
‘Keisha the Sket accidentally decolonised literature‘ – Black Ballad
‘Our literary foremother‘ – Candice Carty-Williams
‘Reading Keisha the Sket as an adult makes me swoon at the richness of its nostalgia‘ – Caleb Femi
‘Keisha the Sket has united a nation and rebirthed a generation of readers who were gripped by the tale of a ‘top sket’ – The Face
Manifesto: On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo
Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker win – the first by a Black woman – was a revolutionary moment both for British culture and for her. After three decades as a trailblazing writer, teacher, and activist, she moved from the margins to centre stage, taking her place in the spotlight at last and making history.
Manifesto is Bernardine Evaristo’s intimate and inspirational, no-holds-barred account of how she did it, refusing to let any barriers stand in her way. She charts her creative rebellion against the mainstream and her life-long commitment to the imaginative exploration of ‘untold’ stories. And drawing deeply on her own experiences, she offers a vital contribution to current conversations around social issues such as race, class, feminism, sexuality, and aging.
This is a unique book about staying true to yourself and to your vision. It’s about how to be unstoppable – in your craft, your work, your life. It is Bernardine Evaristo’s manifesto for never giving up.
‘Bernardine Evaristo is one of those writers who should be read by everyone, everywhere‘ Elif Shafa
‘Bernardine Evaristo is one of Britain’s best writers, an iconic and unique voice, filled with warmth, subtlety, and humanity. Exceptional‘ Nikesh Shukla
This is the Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelves in 50 Books by Joan Anim-Addo, Deidre Osborne, and Kadija Sesay George
A decolonised reading list curated by Joan Anim-Addo, Deirdre Osborne, and Kadija Sesay, This is the Canon, celebrates the wide and diverse experiences of people from around the world, of all backgrounds and all races. It disrupts the all-too-often white-dominated ‘required reading’ collections that have become the accepted norm and highlights powerful voices and cultural perspectives that demand a place on our shelves.
From literary giants such as Toni Morrison and Chinua Achebe to less well-known, but equally vital, writers such as Caribbean novelist Earl Lovelace or Indigenous Australian author Tony Birch, the novels recommended in this collection are in turn haunting and lyrical; innovative and inspiring; edgy and poignant.
This is the Canon offers a rich and multifaceted perspective on our past, present, and future which deserves to be read by all bibliophiles – whether they are book club members or solitary readers, self-educators, or teachers.
‘A vital and timely introduction to some of the best books I’ve ever read. Perfectly curated and filled with brilliant literature‘. -Nikesh Shukla
‘The ultimate introduction to post-colonial literature for those who want to understand the classics and the pioneers in this exciting area of books’ – Symeon Brown