23 books by authors of colour you have to read

23 books by authors of colour you have to read

In the spirit of World Book Day, here's a list of excellent books written by authors of colour.

Whether you like literary fiction, short stories, nonfiction essay collections or fantasy, there's something here for you:

1. The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

The collection is a “document of what it means to be a person of colour” in contemporary Britain, according to the book’s editor Nikesh Shukla,. It includes essays, stories and personal anecdotes by British black, Asian and minority ethnic writers.

2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and this is her debut novel. Children of Blood and Bone has been called the “biggest fantasy debut novel of 2018” and Adeyemi has even reportedly nabbed a seven-figure movie deal.

The story follows fisherman’s daughter Zélie and her friends as they embark on a quest to reawaken magic in the fictional country of Orïsha. Adeyemi calls the book an “allegory for the modern black experience”.

3. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Edo Lodge

Bloomsbury, the publisher of the book says:

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race'. 

Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. 

It has since gone on to win a number of awards including the Jhalak prize for British Writers of Colour.

4. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This is Zadie Smith’s fifth novel and tells the story of two girls who grow up in housing estates in London. They meet at a community dance class, and the novel explores class, identity and the meaning of success.

5. Human Acts By Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

Written by Korean author Han Kang, the novel tells the difficult and harrowing stories of the victims and survivors of the 1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea, which saw hundreds of people die as they demonstrated against the government. The book marks a bloody time in the country’s history, where citizens were fired upon, beaten and killed by government troops.

6. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Written by one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, it explores how the movement was born against the backdrop of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

7. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

The author of The Reluctant Fundamental tackles the difficult journey undertaken by immigrants and refugees all over the world – with a magical little twist.

8. Warcross by Marie Lu

Marie Lu’s protagonist, Emika Chen is an Asian-American, tattooed bounty hunter with a knack for hacking. Lu’s young adult fantasy explores the tension between technology and war.

9. This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins

Morgan Jerkins is a journalist who’s written for The New York Times, The New Republic and BuzzFeed, among other places. This collection of essays talks about pop culture, feminism, black history and misogyny.

10. Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

This is a debut novel about one of the most important poets in Iran - Forugh Farrokhzad.

11. Go Home! Edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

This collection of essays is edited by author Rowan Hisayo Buchanan and explores the slur ‘Go Home!’ through the eyes of Asian diasporic writers.

12. The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikhail

Iraqi journalist and poet Dunya Mikhail writes an unsettling and visceral account of the experiences of Yazidi women at the hands of ISIS.

13. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

This novel was written by Toni Morrison in 1970. Set in the 1940s, it follows the story of Pecola Breedlove and is an exploration of black identity and what it means to be beautiful – relevant topics both then and now.

14. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a graphic autobiography about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

15. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The book is set in postcolonial Nigeria and follows the life of Kambili Achike as she lives through the turbulent political and economic climate, offset by religious conservatism.

16. Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

Winner of the 2017 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, the book explores the history between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.

17. New People by Danzy Senna

Written by award-winning author Danzy Senna, this novel explores race, class and manners in contemporary America through the lens of the protagonist, Maria.

18. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Part fantasy, part psychological realism, the Cuban author’s debut story collection follows the style of her essays – witty, dark and impossibly engrossing.

19. RE: Jane by Patricia Park

Written by Korean-American author Patricia Park, her novel is a modern re-telling of the classic.

20. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Set in Nigeria during the civil war, Okparanta tells the love story between Ijeoma, a Christian Igbo, and Amina, a Muslim Hausa.

21. The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James

Told through the perspective of a giant elephant, a poacher and a film-maker, the story explores conservation in India.

22. The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write by Sabrina Mahfouz

This collection features a number of “literary heavyweights” including spoken word artists and writers as they dismantle the stereotypes associated with Muslim women.

23. An Ember in the Ashes by Samaa Tamir

This fantasy novel is written by Pakistani-American Sabaa Tahir. Of the novel ,The Washington Post says:

This novel is a harrowing, haunting reminder of what it means to be human — and how hope might be kindled in the midst of oppression and fear.

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