This year, Black History Month is dedicated to honouring the achievements of Black women.
The theme of ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ recognises the exceptional contributions that pioneering Black women have made to all aspects of society.
To that end, we’re sharing a list of ten must-read books to celebrate the outstanding literary contributions of Black British female authors.
1. Malorie Blackman – Just Sayin’
A long-awaited memoir detailing the remarkable life of renowned British children’s author, Malorie Blackman. From her childhood in South London to becoming Children’s Laureate and a literary icon, Blackman’s journey is marked by resilience, humour, and an unwavering passion for storytelling.
2. Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other
This multi-prizewinning novel presents a vivid tapestry of modern British life, spanning generations and social classes. It follows 12 diverse characters, primarily Black British women, on their quests for connection, identity and hope across the changing landscapes of the 20th and 21st centuries.
3. Patience Agbabi – Telling Tales
An inventive reimagining of Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’ by award-winning poet, Patience Agbabi. This remix breathes fresh life into each story, with Agbabi’s unique, energetic and lyrically rich poetry celebrating Chaucer’s literary classic, while infusing it with a contemporary twist.
4. Irenosen Okojie – Butterfly Fish
‘Butterfly Fish’ follows Joy, a Londoner struggling with grief after her mother’s sudden death. She discovers a brass warrior’s head from 18th-century Benin, triggering dreams and encounters with a mysterious woman. As Joy unravels family secrets, the novel explores love, loss, hope and power.
5. Patrice Lawrence – Orangeboy
A prize-winning debut exploring the moral dilemmas of Black British teenager, Marlon, who’s determined to avoid his brother’s mistakes. When tragedy strikes, Marlon is forced down a dangerous path, leading him to question his choices and his loyalty in this heart-rending story.
6. Zadie Smith – Swing Time
‘Swing Time’ explores the fateful meeting of two girls who dream of being dancers, but only one – Tracey – has talent. Their close, complex friendship weaves through life’s twists, from London to West Africa. Zadie Smith’s exuberant novel delves into music, race, and belonging.
7. Dorothy Koomson – The Chocolate Run
This book tells the story of Amber Salpone, who repeatedly finds herself in a secret affair with her friend, Greg. As they grow closer, Amber struggles with commitment issues. An exploration of love, trust, and the shocking realisation that chocolate can’t cure everything (what?!).
8. Yrsa Daley-Ward – The Terrible
Daley-Ward’s poignant journey through her childhood in north-west England is a powerful memoir marked by beauty and turmoil. It delves into sexuality, addiction and self-discovery, detailing ‘even the Terrible Things’. An award-winning narrative about losing yourself and finding your voice.
9. Hannah-Azieb Pool – My Fathers’ Daughter
An intimate memoir by Hannah-Azieb Pool, an Eritrean-British journalist who embarks on a transformative journey to meet her long-lost family in Eritrea after receiving a letter from a brother she never knew she had. This powerful narrative explores belonging, family, and self-discovery.
10. Dreda Say Mitchell – Death Trap
‘Death Trap’ introduces teenager Nikki Bell as the sole witness to a gruesome family murder. She’s now a target for dangerous criminals and DI Rio Wray races to protect her. In a deadly game, lines blur, and survival becomes a question of timing. Another tense thriller from Dreda Say Mitchell!
We hope these recommendations have inspired you to get reading. Let us know your favourites! #SalutingOurSisters #WeMatter
You can find all these books, and more, in the Kortext eBookstore.