Best Books for Black History Month

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For this years’ Black History Month there are so many new releases to suit all tastes. Whether you are after some context on this significant social celebration or a gritty new fiction, we’ve picked some of the best new releases.

CROSSFIRE BY MALORIE BLACKMAN

Malorie Blackman makes a brilliant return to her best-selling Noughts and Crosses series with a story of prejudice, love, ambition, politics and violence. In the series launch title, Sephy, a Cross, and Callum, a Nought, challenged the divisions in their society. They paid a heavy price for doing so, but they did make changes; racial and class barriers were brought down, and they thought the future would be brighter. But a generation on, while superficially things look better, the prejudices remain, and violence follows. When the first Nought Prime Minister is framed for murder, he turns to his old friend Callie Rose, daughter of Sephy and Callum to defend him. But crossing the racial divide is still unpopular, and both have ruthless enemies. As corruption spills into violence, the next generation, Troy and Liberty, are terrifyingly caught up in the conflict.

THE SOURCE OF SELF REGARD: SELECTED ESSAYS, SPEECHES AND MEDITATIONS BY TONI MORRISON

Providing a much-needed testament on the current climate, Toni Morrison’s collection of writings focus around the themes of responsibility, fascism and globalization. The Pulitzer prize winner is particularly concerned about the way rights are currently seen as privileges; how borders become weapons of the state and how race is used to erase the poor. The book also features critical pieces on black artists and fiction, stimulating and challenging the reader in the same way her novels do.

NOTES FROM A BLACK WOMAN’S DIARY BY KATHLEEN COLLINS

Kathleen Collins, a pioneering black writer and film-maker, is seeing her work undergo a sort of renaissance. This new collection of screenplays, fiction and journal entries is sure to bring her even further attention. Collins’ fragmentary, poetic explorations of life are unique for the way they explore black interiority or as she puts it in her story Scapegoat Child. “What hopeless feelings underpin the already cruel family landscape who can say, but all these folk are Negroes.”

WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE BY RENI EDDO-LODGE

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.”
Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and commented flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanized by this evident hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

BLACK AND BRITISH: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY BY DAVID OLUSOGA

David Olusoga’s history of Black Britain is a revealing exploration of the long relationship between Great Britain and Africa. A History reaches back to Roman Britain, with the aid of new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary reviews. It’s an insightful, inclusive history of black people in Britain which is rich in detail and packed with strong, interesting characters.

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