Reading lets you expand your mind, explore new experiences and learn more about the world around us. If you’re looking for a new addition to add to your bookshelf this summer, here are ten exceptional options from BAME authors that offer different perspectives whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction.
1. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Bernardine Evaristo secured the 2020 Booker Prize with Girl, Woman, Other. It explores the stories of 12 interconnected characters, many of whom are black British women, from a child growing up in Newcastle at the turn of the 20th century to a 2008 university student struggling with her cultural heritage as she attends Oxford. If you want to learn more about racism in Britain, the challenges triumphs and everyday experiences of the cast of characters will give you an insight.
2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
For an easy read fiction book, the first instalment of this incredibly popular young adult book hits the mark. It has some of the hallmarks of a traditional fantasy series, with main character Zélie having to hide her magic as a ruler takes over and ruthlessly seeks out those with mystical abilities. But drawing on rich mythology from west Africa, the struggle against oppressive powers is given a new twist by Tomi Adeyemi. Be warned though, the cliffhanger ending means you’ll want to reach for the second instalment right away.
3. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Back in 2014, journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog about her frustrations around the way discussions of race and racism were handled in Britain. Since then, the topic has become even more charged and her book expands on the concepts she first raised six years ago, including the conversation being led by people that aren’t affected by racial bias, and maps the impact racism has had in Britain from slavery through to the modern-day. Reni Eddo-Lodge goes a step further to offer a new framework for how we acknowledge and counter racism.
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Inspired by a true story in the mid-19th century, Toni Morrison’s masterpiece focuses on Sethe, a slave mother that escapes life on a plantation to the free state of Ohio but finds her past and trauma aren’t easy to leave behind. The Pulitzer-Prize winning novel weaves together stories of family, community and folklore, without shying away from the atrocities of the period. It’s a novel that can give you insight into how slavery has affected descendants and change your sense of the world.
5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is a contemporary coming of age story that offers a glimpse into 21st-century challenges. As a teenager, Starr Carter is from a predominantly black neighbourhood but attending a predominantly white school. The story follows Starr as she struggles to reconcile the different aspects of her life and identity when she’s a witness in a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. Given the current climate, the themes of justice, corruption, and prejudice are particularly relevant.
6. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie was one of the most talked-about novels in 2019. Covering a huge range of issues from race and class through to mental health and consent, Queenie offers a snapshot of modern Britain. Coming from a Jamaican British family, the main character explores shifting cultures as she steps on to a path to find happiness following a terrible break-up. The questionable decisions and misadventures will provoke laughter and tears in equal measure as you read it.
7. The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
In the Good Immigrant, 21 writers explore what it means to be from a BAME background in Britain today. The crowdfunded book offers unique perspectives on ingrained racist attitude with contributions from the likes of Reni Eddo-Lodge, Roz Ahmed and Vinay Patel. The book explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and the experiences they have, from being profiled at an airport to going ‘home’ when the UK is really your home. The concept of the book was inspired by a discussion around how society deems immigrants as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and the implications this has.
8. Me and white supremacy by Layla Saad
When Layla Saad started a 28-day Instagram challenge encouraging people to look at their racist behaviour, big and small, and how they’ve benefitted from while privilege, it went viral. The book follows on from this, updating and expanding on the original idea to help people take a deeper look at the world, recognise where they can do better and take action. It’s a tool for people that want to challenge the status quo but don’t know where to begin.
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Written by legendary civil right activist and writer, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a poetic memoir and a coming of age story. The book begins when Maya Angelou is three years old and charts her journey to becoming a young woman that challenges prejudice. As an autobiography that’s written as a piece of literature, the book draws you in and covers topics such as identity, the civil rights movement, importance of family and racism. It was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and has remained an important ‘must-read’ ever since.
10. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Emira Tucker is a cash-strapped babysitter that’s racially profiled in a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the child she looks after. It sets off an explosive chain of events and leads to both Emira and Alix, her employer, questioning everything they know. The writing is witty and charming even as it holds up a mirror to some of the biggest topics of the twenty-first century, from racism to class, as the characters learn more about themselves and the dynamics of modern society.