Pamela Koehne-Drube

Written by

Pamela Koehne-Drube

11 February 2022

Books

6 New Releases by Black Authors to Read in 2022

Books to read by Black Authors in 2022

Looking for something new to read this year? Black History Month isn’t the only time to amplify Black voices, so we’ve put together this list of amazing new and upcoming releases from Black authors to read in 2022.

Wahala by Nikki May

Wahala by Nikki May - Books to read by Black authors in 2022

Wahala is May’s debut novel about female friendship through its joys and complications.

The story is about three Anglo-Nigerian women living in London whose shared experiences drew them to each other. Despite their lives taking different directions, they remain close, until a fourth woman enters their circle and brings their lives into disarray.

Each woman has a unique voice and influences the narrative in different ways, and Nikki May cunningly explores not only female friendships, but also differing social power dynamics, and a deep dive into culture and what it means.

You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays by Zora Neale Hurston

You Don't Know Us Negroes by Zora Neale Hurson

This collection of essays spans 35 years of the work of Zora Neale Hurston, the legendary author of the Harlem Renaissance. It spans her career as a novelist, archivist, essayist and playwright, and showcases her development as a writer.

Covering everything from art criticism to personal stories of her experience in Jim Crow America, the collection discusses politics, race and gender, the civil rights movement, as well as some fascinating insights into the trial of Ruby McCollum, a Black woman sentenced to death for killing her lover, a white doctor.

Many of the essays in this collection have been out of print until now, and some for this is the first time they’ve appeared in print. Hurston’s style is engaging and intimate, and is a must-read – especially for those not yet familiar with her work.

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata woman by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Woman is the third book in The Nsibidi Scripts, a YA Urban Fantasy series. Following on from the bestselling Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, it is a coming of age story that sees Sunny Nwazue embark on a dangerous quest (with the help of some friends, of course).

Sunny’s world is absolutely engrossing, and the setting is as much of a character as the protagonists. Nnedi Okorafor draws on African mythology and folklore to weave a story that is endearing, fun, surprising, and smart, while simultaneously never shying away from canny social commentary.

The whole Nsibi Scripts series is a fantastic addition to the YA genre – it offers something new and unique that sets itself apart from the cookie-cutter fantasy plot beats we too often see.

Yonder by Jabari Asim

Yonder by Jabari Asim

Yonder is a deeply affecting novel told from multiple viewpoints. It tells the story of a group of enslaved people (“The Stolen”) that is both confronting, yet deeply beautiful.

Despite being firmly set in a real past, Yonder has an allegorical feel to it. It’s as much about the bonds of family and love as it is about the torment the characters must endure. Characters shy away from attachment, while others cling to it. It’s also about the power of belief, both in each other and of something for which we can strive.

The Washington Post described Yonder as “a vital addition to our literature about slavery.” It tackles a topic filled with such sadness and infuses it with hope and empowerment.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy is an absolutely riveting thriller that gives a rare glimpse into the world of classical music. It tells the story of Ray McMillian, an up-and-coming musical star whose violin, a genuine Stradivarius, is stolen right before the most important recital of his career.

It’s a simple premise that tells a sweeping story that is both intimate and grand in its scope. It tracks the provenance of the Stradivarius, gifted to Ray by his grandfather, while simultaneously exploring family dynamics, and Ray’s personal development.

This book is a rare thing – a thrilling page-turner with something to say.

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

A wonderful coming-of-age novel, What the Fireflies Knew, is a deeply emotional capturing of the ups and downs in the life of a young Black girl on the cusp of puberty. It challenges the idea of perfection and shows the experience of growing up in all its flawed glory.

Kai Harris has perfectly captured the voice of her protagonist, KB. The reader learns and experiences in tandem with her, leading us a journey with the character, rather than just reading about her experiences. It explores family, identity, and race, and the structure of the story lends itself to a deeper engagement and understanding, as it involves us in KB’s experience from the very first page. What the Fireflies Knew is not always an easy read, but it’s an important one.

Have you got any recommendations on books by Black authors to read in 2022? Are there upcoming releases you’re excited about, or a favourite book that you think everyone should read? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram!

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