I’m so excited to share this list with you today! My young cousin is a teacher in Pittsburgh and she was gracious enough to share her fave African American books with me. These reads will be perfect for the Diversity Reading Challenge and as additions to your TBR list. My cousin Lisa’s thoughts are first. Mine are in italics.
Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia
The Seasons of Beento Blackbird marks the debut of Akosua Busia, an exciting and passionate new novelist. It is the story of Solomon Wilberforce, a magnetic and brilliant man who writes bestselling children’s books under the name Beento Blackbird and who has dedicated himself to educating the far-flung children of African descent about their glorious heritage. And it is also the story of the three women who love him: Miriam, the Caribbean midwife who delivered him into the world when she was nine years old; Samantha, his beautiful, talented, and utterly modern New York book agent; and Ashia, an innocent woman-child who awaits him in her native village in Ghana. Solomon spends one season a year with each of these very different women. But when a family tragedy brings him to New York out of season, he finds that the neat compartments that once separated Miriam, Sam, and Ashia begin to fold in on one another. In a life that was once ordered by the cadence of nature itself, suddenly nothing is certain – and Solomon and the women he loves will never be the same again
Lyrical telling of a man’s struggle to love selflessly. I just added this to my TBR list.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Unique telling of one woman’s journey to literally go back in time and heal the wounds of her ancestors in an effort to function in the present. Unique in that these ancestors are both one of slaves and slave masters. I love the idea of this because of the time travel!
Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Historical Fiction at it’s best. Captures the essence of a 360 degree beautifully distarous sweet journey of a young African girl from freedom to slavery to freedom. For the first time ever, a simple novel that is able to capture such rich content in a manner that will stunt your ability to put the book down until completed. I read this book this year and loved it! It’s simplicity is beautiful.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate. Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -no mean feat for a Black woman in the 30’s. Zora Neale Hurston’s classic 1937 novel follows Janie from her nanny’s plantation shack to Logan Killick’s farm, to all Black Eatonville, to the Everglades, and back to Eatonville- where she gathers in “the great fish-net” of her life. Janie’s quest for identity takes her on a journey during which she learns what love is, experiencess life’s joys and sorrows, and comes home to herself in peace.
Captured one woman’s failed journey to find a sense of purpose and peace within the confines of a man. Rich is colorful dialect and spirit. A love story like no other. I thought I had read this in college, but I must have overlooked it. Adding this to my TBR list as well!
August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean
Captures the story of the African American Female Matriarch and her never faltering spirit of resilence despite unsurmountable obstacles.
Yeah so I MUST say something about August Wilson. I’m not a raging fan of Wilson’s as his stories scare me, much like Toni Morrison’s. What I DO love about Wilson’s work is that it chronicles the African American community in Pittsburgh, where I was born and raised, which is an often overlooked city, despite its rich history.
I’m so PROUD of my lil cousin, she’s all grown up now and is one hella teacher in Pittsburgh! So much love for teachers out there, doing what they love to do.
Hey teachers, if you ever want to send me your top 5 list like this, JUST. DO. IT.