The Best New (and New-ish) Books to Read This Black History Month
It’s Black History Month, friends. In honor of this annual remembrance and celebration of important African-American people and events, consider reading one of these recently published books by some of the most incredible black authors writing today.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
In this raw and heartfelt memoir, award-winning poet Saeed Jones writes about being a young, black, gay man from the South fighting to make a place for himself in his family and in the world. From his childhood in Lewisville, Texas, to the MFA program at Rutgers University, it’s about the struggle to find and redefine his identity, as well as a meditation on blackness and queerness, and the ways those identities are continuously discriminated against.
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
After freeing herself from slavery as a child, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm in 1924. But when her neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, an uneasy friendship forms—until Charlotte’s relationship with the Ku Klux Klan jeopardizes Josephine’s family. After her National Book Award–nominated debut, A Kind of Freedom, Wilkerson Sexton’s latest is a historically-inspired story about female friendship and impossible survival in the American South.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Last year, Bernardine Evaristo became the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, for her multi-voiced novel about an interconnected group of Black British women: a playwright whose work explores her Black lesbian identity, a jaded teacher and a successful investment banker. Girl, Woman, Other paints a vivid portrait of the state of contemporary Britain and looks back to the legacy of Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.
Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham
In Lagos, Nigeria, in 1996, the lives of twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are turned upside down when their mother loses her job due to political strife. With their family now facing poverty, they turn to a suspicious spiritual institution that leads their father to wager the family home on a bet that goes up in flames. In the fallout, the inseparable sisters are forced to navigate their way on their own.
Here for It by R. Eric Thomas
Thomas is known for his hilarious Elle.com column, “Eric Reads the News.” His debut memoir-in-essays covers growing up in a Baltimore neighborhood while attending a majority-white private school, landing his dream job, dealing with impostor syndrome, and grappling with love, breakups and other setbacks in between.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In pre-Civil War Virginia, Hiram Walker is barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escaped slaves to freedom in the North. Coates's (Between the World and Me) debut novel traverses Virginia’s proud plantations, guerrilla cells in the wilderness and dangerously idealistic movements in the North—and takes on the themes of inequality and grit he's known for in his non-fiction.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
In 1961, Sarah M. Broom’s mother bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East, making a home for herself and her 12 children there. In this winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Brown tells the story of 100 years of her family and their relationship to home in one of America’s most mythologized cities—including how the Yellow House continues to influence the lives of her loved ones, even after it was wiped off the map during Hurricane Katrina.