This October marks the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK in what has been a pivotal year for the global #BlackLivesMatter movement.
As an ally to the black community, here at Kortext we are celebrating black stories and achievements by compiling a booklist of fiction by black writers and historical stories from Black History around the world all available on our store. Storytellers bring the experiences of our black British citizens to life so that people from all backgrounds can celebrate the vital part these communities have played in shaping the country. Books are amazing tools for education and enjoyment, with the power to immerse you in other cultures, and enable readers to see things from new perspectives. We hope you enjoy the books we’ve picked out to captivate and inform. Together let’s #shareblackstories.
One of the BBC’s ‘100 Novels That Shaped Our World ‘If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. A little black girl opens her eyes in 1930s Harlem, weak and half-blind. On she stumbles – through teenage pain and loneliness, but then to happiness in friendship from Washington Heights to Mexico, always changing, always strong. This is Audre Lorde’s story. A rapturous, life-affirming autobiographical novel by the ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet’, it changed the literary landscape.
“Her work shows us new ways to imagine the world … so many themes of Audre’s work have endured” –Renni Eddo Lodge, author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’.
Homegoing is the debut historical fiction novel by Yaa Gyasi, published in 2016. Each chapter in the novel follows a different descendant of an Asante woman named Maame, starting with her two daughters, who are half-sisters, separated by circumstance: Effia marries James Collins, the British governor in charge of Cape Coast Castle, while her half-sister Esi is held captive in the dungeons below. Subsequent chapters follow their children and following generations.
The novel was selected in 2016 for the National Book Foundation‘s “5 under 35” award, the National Book Critics Circle‘s John Leonard Award for best first book, and was long listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize in a 2017. It received the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for 2017, an American Book Award, and the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature.
Winner of the Jhalak Prize, Guardian, New Statesman and BBC History Magazine Best Book of 2019. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity … A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too … With my brown skin and my British passport – still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing – I set out in search of the Afropeans, on a cold October morning. Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.
“Afropean seizes the blur of contradictions that have obscured Europe’s relationship with blackness and paints it into something new, confident and lyrical” – Afua Hirsch.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JAMES TAIT BLACK PRIZE | THE JHALAK PRIZE | THE BREAD AND ROSES AWARD & LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING
From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire. Natives is the searing modern polemic and Sunday Times bestseller from the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.
“The kind of disruptive, aggressive intellect that a new generation is closely watching” – Afua Hirsch, Observer.
“Part biography, part polemic, this powerful, wide-ranging study picks apart the British myth of meritocracy” David Olusoga, Guardian.
“A history lesson of the kind you should get in school but don’t” – Stylist.
THE ICONIC CLASSIC, WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE, ONE OF THE BBC ‘100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED OUR WORLD’
Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown. Abused repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, Celie has two children taken away from her and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. And gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves. Beloved by generations of readers, The Color Purple broke the silence around abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love .
“One of the most haunting books you could ever wish to read. It is stunning – moving, exciting and wonderful” – Lenny Henry.
“A lush celebration of all that it means to be a black female. I love that The Color Purple doesn’t try to soften its blows but is also courageous enough to hold on to a wonderfully affirming faith in possibility, in forgiveness and kindness and hope” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
“A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia” – Oprah Winfrey.
BRITISH BOOK AWARDS AUTHOR & FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019THE SUNDAY TIMES 1# BESTSELLER
This is Britain as you’ve never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope
“A choral love song to black womanhood in modern Great Britain” – Elle.
“Beautifully interwoven stories of identity, race, womanhood, and the realities of modern Britain. The characters are so vivid, the writing is beautiful and it brims with humanity” – Nicola Sturgeon on Twitter.
“Bernardine Evaristo can take any story from any time and turn it into something vibrating with life” – Ali Smith, author of How to be Both.
The HEPI/Advance HE student experience survey 2020 reports that ‘students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds continue to report a lower perception of value for money, experience over expectation, and confidence in their retrospective choice of course and provider’ so, as part of the education industry we’ve still got a long way to go. Here at Kortext we are trying to make learning as accessible and inclusive as possible to all students via our digital platform.
“Millions of people have engaged with ideas of race and racism as never before. A year in which books on race and black British history have been in the bestseller lists and the concept of “anti-racism” has caught the imagination of the young.” – David Olusoga
Read the full article by David Olusoga