Black and Write

October is Black History Month so let’s highlight some of the most popular titles written by black and minority ethnic authors.

26a - Diana Evans
26a is a story about a mixed White/Nigerian family growing up in Britain and briefly in Nigeria in the 1980s and 1990s. A thought provoking read giving an insight into the lives and thoughts of twin girls growing up in modern Britain.

Londonstani - Gautam Malkani -
Follows the fortunes of four young asian men living the desi lifestyle in Hounslow. A sharp, witty and dramatic story narrated by Jas, a member of the group. It’s a challenging novel that uses dialect slang language.

The Icarus girl - Helen Oyeyemi
In “The Icarus Girl”, eight-year-old Jessamy Harrison is the only child of a Nigerian mother and English father. She has unusual obsessions for a child and finds it hard to make friends. Then, on her first visit to her mother’s family home in Nigeria, Jess meets Tilly, a strange child with extraordinary abilities who leads her into forbidden places and uncomfortable situations.

White teeth - Zadie Smith
The story travels through Jamaica, Turkey, Bangladesh and India and ends up in a London borough. It’s two heroes, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, met in the Second World War and have been best friends ever since. Archie marries Clara, who's on the run from her Jehovah's Witness mother, and they have a daughter, Irie. Samad marries Alsana and they have twin sons. In the author's words, this novel is "an attempt at a comic family epic of little England into which an explosion of ethnic colour is injected".

Brixton rock - Alex Wheatle
Brenton Brown is 16 years old and has lived in a children's home all his life. Being reunited with his mother is the best thing that has happened to him but a strange series of events soon push him to the edge.

I know why the caged bird sings - Maya Angelou
The first part of Maya Angelou's classic autobiography. Growing up in the 1930s American South, Maya and her brother Bailey were abandoned by their parents and left in the care of their paternal grandmother Momma. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" is the harrowing tale of Angelou's struggle to, not only be accepted as black and female, but also to accept herself.

The autobiography - Malcolm X
By the time of his murder in 1965, Malcolm X was world famous as the "angriest black man in America". Speaking out to millions of oppressed blacks  he brought new hope and self-respect. But was Malcolm X, in the words of one critic, merely a racist preaching hatred or was he a founding father, whose passionate eloquence has helped to nourish the modern anti-racist movement? This book attempts to answer this question by looking at the life and work of Malcolm X.

Too black, too strong - Benjamin Zephaniah
Poems that address the problems of Black Britain. This work includes poems written while the author was working with Michael Mansfield QC on the Stephen Lawrence case and other high profile political trails. It is hard hitting and blackly funny.

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