The Black Experience: Books with Black Aromantic characters/ by Black Aro Authors

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Its Aromantic Awareness week! While Black History Month on its on is one of my favourite months of the year, aromanticism awareness week also being in February makes it even dearer to me. And so, today I’ll be sharing a list of books with characters just like me or by authors with the same romantic orientation. I hope you enjoy this post of Black aro-ness.


Books with Black Aromantic Characters

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1. The Black Veins by Ashia Monet

(Black aromantic bisexual main character)

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2. The Deep by Rivers Solomon

(Black aromantic secondary character)

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3. An Unkindness of Ghost by Rivers Solomon

(Black aromantic secondary character)

 

4. Criminal Intentions Series by Cole McCade

(Black aromantic side character)

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5. An Accident Of Stars (Manifold Worlds #1) by Foz Meadows

(Black aromantic main character in a polyamorous relationship)


Black Aromantic Authors

 

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1. Ashia Monet

Ashia Monet is a nonbinary Black aromantic bisexual author

Books

The Black Veins (The Dead Magic #1)

Momentum (with other authors)

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2. Michón Neal

Michon Neal is a genderqueer Black disabled aromantic demi-pansexual polyamorous intersex writer.

Books

The Life of Allison Dutch

The Changing of Allison Dutch

The Legacy of Allison Dutch

The Colds

The Black Tree

Aro Eros Arrows

You Don’t Belong Here

In the Time of Toba: Lilith: Book One

Not Like Them

Sweet Revenge (The Black Tree Book 2)

Caught in the Crossfire and The Three Talismans

Mikassa’s Reign

Mikassa’s Fall

Once Upon a Green Rose

Come Collecting (The Black Tree, Volume 6, #12)

Voltrozi: Planet of En-Suckers

Arion and Beyond

The Next Generation: Black Tree Book Nine

Necessary to Life: A Memoir of Devotion, Cancer and Abundant Love

The Realms

All That Glitters

Sweet Revenge and Razi’s Odd Planet (Black Tree, #6, #7)

Slowing Down and Taking Over (The Black Tree #8)

Fantasy Twists

Final Revelation (The Black Tree, #7)

The Black Tree Second (The Black Tree, #14)

The Cuil Spread: Open Up

 

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3. Wes Kennedy

Wes Kennedy is a Black aromantic bisexual author

Books

To Terminator, With Love


 

 


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The Black Experience: The Danger Of The Single Story

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Today’s post is by Ronni Davis, author of When The Stars Lead to You. Ronni talks about the need for more black representation and the danger of the single story.


Years ago, I attended a workshop meant for authors to learn more about writing diverse stories and highlighting diverse characters. During the workshop, we watched a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the danger of a single story; in short, what happens when people are reduced to one narrative.

I can tell you what happens from a personal standpoint. Stereotypes and discrimination, frustration that I’m not allowed to be a whole person. It means hearing about a horrible crime on the news and praying that the perpetrator isn’t Black. It means looking at a casting call for background roles on a TV show, and seeing all the calls for Black youth include the words thug and drug dealer instead of pedestrian or bystander. It means that one Black person’s bad behavior is the model for all of us, while the “good ones” are the anomalies.

It means flipping through show after show, wanting to watch a fun love story about Black teens, but instead being traumatized with mostly stories about Black Pain. It means watching almost exclusively Black Pain stories win awards and make loads of money, while stories about our joy are dismissed as unrelatable and unrealistic.

I write mainly in the YA/Teen space, and I also read a lot in that space. I cut my teeth on old school teen books in the late 80s, early 90s, books about how hard it was to be the new girl in school, navigating college applications, or complicated sister relationships. It didn’t occur to me, until I was well into adulthood, to be bothered by how White they were. But once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. Whenever I came across the rare book with a Black girl on the cover, I grabbed it to support it… but I started to notice that too many of those books were about teen pregnancy, drugs, gang violence. Or they were historical books about Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman. Or that they had to have some important cultural, award-winning impact to be taken seriously.

Those stories are necessary. But when they’re the only stories, there is a problem.

That TED Talk was the first time I’d seen someone actually speak about this topic, and it made me explore deeply what bothered me so much about a lot of Black literature, especially in the teen book space. And it also made me confront some feelings I’d been trying to squash.

In media, Black people are typically the bad guys, the first to die, the comic relief, or as vehicles to advance the White characters. Rarely (although, thank God, it’s slowly getting better) do we get our own story that’s complex and complicated and nuanced. Rarely do we get a story that is told with the flavor of our language. It’s almost always filtered through the White gaze, stretched and twisted to be palatable to the culture that determines what is “quality” literature and entertainment, based on their standards and tastes.

Because the same story has been told about Black people for decades now, when one of us deviates from that formula, we get told our stories are unrelatable or unrealistic. We hear that gatekeepers couldn’t connect with the voice. We are told our words are not authentic enough, while a White author who may or may not even have a Black person in their outer, let alone inner circle, gets to rehash the same stories and continue to profit off of our pain.

I don’t want to write exclusively about Black Pain. I want to write love stories and rom-coms and coming-of-age stories where Black girls get to ride horses, take vacations, and study for their dream college. I want them to fall in love and kiss that person they’re crushing on. I want these girls to have makeover montages and find out they’re secret princesses or sirens or superheroes. I want to explore tropes before they’re pronounced cancelled. Played out before I get a chance to try them for myself.

Because Black people are only portrayed in so many ways in books, TVs, movies, people who consume that media believe those things to be true about us, the real people. We’re forced into this box, and if we try to break out, we quickly find that it’s unsafe. We’re quickly forced back into “our place”. Those single stories give the dominant group the tools they need to do this. They meet us, already guarded. They listen to the rhythm of our speech and call us uneducated. They immediately distrust us. It makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong, how I could be better. But think about it. If the only representation you see of people like you is negative, how big of a leap is it to start thinking of yourself that way?

White characters get to have all sorts of stories. They get to be great, sure, but they also get to be terrible. Because they have so many stories, we all know that one awful White character does not represent all White people. Black people rarely get that benefit of the doubt because we’re only allowed to generally have one story, and that story is supposed to represent us all.

Except we have so many stories and we just want the opportunity to tell them, share them, and be supported in doing so. Unfortunately, the industry is reluctant to let go of the old ways. They know the stories that have been successful, and they continue to dig that groove deeper and deeper. Meanwhile, so many different types of stories are falling into those crevices because they don’t get the support that the tried and true narratives get. And if those stories —the ones that show our truth alongside our pain, the ones that show unapologetic joy, innocence, longing —if they do get a chance? The resistance can be painful. But the pushback is exactly WHY we need to keep pushing these stories out there, and supporting the authors who create them. So they can get normalized. So everyone can learn that we’re so much more than our pain. And that our stories are just as valid, and just a relatable, as every White story that is touted as universal.

The single story is dangerous, so let’s create multitudes.

Ronni’s Links 

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Tumblr

Facebook

Goodreads


 


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The Black Experience: Favourite Black Content Creators

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Today’s post is by Saoudia & I. We highlight some of our favourite black content creators. We hope you check out their blogs/channels/pages!


Saoudia

hi everyone, my name is saoudia and i blog @withlovesaoudia on wordpress! today i will share with you a few of my favorite black content creators in the book community! click on their name to get to their channel or blog!

1. myonna from myonna reads

2. chanelle from chanelletime

3. aissata from aissata amadou

4. whitney elizabeth from bookswhitme

5. mina from mina reads

6. aaryn from just aaryn

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7. kat marielle from kat marielle

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8. jocelynn from jocelynnreads

9. tahirah from sincerely tahiry

sooo here are nine content creators i think you guys should definitely check out! i hope you guys all have a nice day!

Saoudia’s links

blog

twitter


Em/Zainab

Saoudia has already named more than half of my favourites, so I’ll be adding these content creators who I feel also deserve to be highlighted, to the list.

1. Fadwa from Word Wonders

Fadwa is one of the first black bloggers I followed, and she’s absolutely amazing. I love her content; her reviews, her recommendation videos, her vlogs, as well as the discussion posts and blog series she hosts on her blog. You definitely need to follow her, if you don’t already.

Booktube Channel| Blog | Bookstagram

2. Etinosa from Uwadis

Etinosa is one of Black book bloggers I deeply admire. Etinosa tries to highlight books by BIPOC authors and especially Nigerian authors. She’s also the creator of the African Book Reviewers Directory and her blog also has Accessibility features.

Blog | Bookstagram

3. Francina Simone

Francina Simone is the first Black booktuber I followed on recommendation of a friend, and that friend was right. I enjoy Francina’s videos and opinions. She also has a book coming out soon.

Booktube Channel | Instagram1

 

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4. Olivia Savannah from Olivia’s Catastrophe.

Olivia is one of the first Black bookish content creators I followed, although I only recently started following her booktube channel. I love her reviews and bookstagram. Her photos are so creative and fun! I was super impressed when I first found her bookstagram. Olivia also gives great recommendations. Follow Olivia for quality content.

Booktube Channel | Blog | Bookstagram

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5. Jesse from Bowties and Books.

I felt this post will be incomplete without mentioning Jesse. Truthfully, I only started following Jesse’s channel lately (don’t ask how lately). Despite this I love their videos and I think you should follow them!

Booktube Channel | Bookstagram

 


 

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The Black Experience: Favourite books with Black characters in love

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Its Valentines! Today to celebrate for day of love, Tanya Pickles will be bringing us her favourite books with Black characters in love both romantic, and familial.


If you may recall in my post highlighting my favorite reads of 2019 [read post here], I discussed that I began reading more books written by Black authors. This is in large part to me connecting with more Black bookbloggers and booktubers.

It is really is an ah ha moment, when you realize that your shelves as a Black woman, lack diverse reads. Its an ah ha moment you realize that a lot of what is on your shelf are either some of the same style of books or the most marketed books (and we know that does not include Black or POC authors).

But now that the backstory is over, I am excited to share my favorite romance with Black characters in love 😍.

1. Wonder by Christina C. Jones

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I will ship this book for thee rest of my life. The romance was such a great build up and it is because the attraction between Aly and Maddox doesn’t define the story. It develops around their lives bringing together in a very heated and believable way. This book will always be one of my favorite romances with Black characters in love.

2.Snowflake by Nia Forrester

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Another book that blew my mind and took every piece of emotion that I had. This romance is truly unexpected even for the characters themselves. Kal and Asha are in a turning point in their life and as opposed to beating around the bush and just ruining so much time, that allow love and it was freaking beautiful. I finished this book in one sitting and even as I write this I smile at how good and inspiring this love is.

3. The Real Mrs. Price by J.D. Mason

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Okay so here my out. . . this romance isn’t the most ideal and reason for that is Plato is pretty much a demon. Marlowe is considered the “hoodoo woman” and ideally, she knows better. But Plato gets to her as much as she gets to him and as unconventional their relationship is, it works, and it builds off lust in a really good way. What I mean by that is the lust isn’t why they stick around. Its helpful but there is something more. Again, completely unconventional but this romance plays on my love of fantasy and good sex.

4. Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

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I cannot talk about my favorite romances without talking about Jack and Elsira. Not only is this (well I consider it) a New Adult novel, their romance was a pure slow burn that resulted in two people getting to know each other (reluctantly) in the middle of war. I loved the balance of their romance and how the attraction was not instant, but it was based off their interactions and their build trust.


Characters in love but not romantically

I wanted to add this section because there are some books that highlight love with Black characters but they are not romantic. It is important to be able to spotlight these relationships just like the others.

1. First Part Last by Angela Johnson

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This is a relationship between a father, his daughter and her mother, Nia. There is that unconditional love for his daughter but there is also a love between Bobby and Nia that began as romance but shifted due to an unexpected trauma. It’s a beautiful story and my first favorite young adult novel that I actually read as a teenager.

2. Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

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This relationship is strictly about family, what defines a family and building that trust so you can be able to love. The story itself is pretty simple and a bit of a fast read but Tiffany has to learn how to love and trust people who were never in her life and also most importantly she has to learn how to trust her mother who is no longer living. It is powerful in the sense that how do you love when your life is uprooted.

What some of your favorite Black characters in love?

Tanya’s Links

Blog

Goodreads

Twitter



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The Black Experience: Books by Black Authors in 2020 (Part 2)

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

In today’s post, I’ll be giving another list of books by Black Authors releasing in 2020. Due to the sheer number of books by Black authors releasing this year, this post has been divided into two i.e Part 1 and Part 2. This list will also not include books by Debut authors as it will be redundant when there is already a list of that, so please take this list as a continuation of the first and second existing lists, but with non-debut authors, and it will be numbered as such.

Also due to the unexpected number of newly found books also releasing this year, there will be an extra post at the closing of the blog series to complete and add any outstanding books not found in all the three lists.


(The complete list of Books by Black authors in 2020 begins with the list of books by Black debut authors, you can view those HERE , and another preexisting list with books by non debut Black authors HERE )

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44. Legendborn (Legendborn #1) by Tracey Deon

Genre: Fantasy

Category: YA

Expected Release Date: September 15, 2020

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her previous life, family memories, or her childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at a local university seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure reveals Bree’s own, unique magic and unlocks a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that she knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, Bree will do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn by becoming one of their initiates. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur and his knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

Add on Goodreads

(Tracy Deon is actually a debut author but I missed her book in the first list. I will be moving Legendborn to the initial list when the series is done)

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45. Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola

Genre:

Category: Anthology

Expected Release Date: July 9, 2020

Discover love from times long ago…

Join Bolu Babalola as she retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology in this stunning collection. From the homoromantic Greek myths, to magical Nigerian folktales, to the ancient stories of South Asia, Bolu brings new life to tales that truly show the vibrance and colours of love around the world.

The anthology is a step towards decolonising tropes of love, and celebrates in the wildly beautiful and astonishingly diverse tales of romance and desire that already exist in so many cultures and communities.

Get lost in these mystical worlds and you will soon realise that humanity – like love – comes in technicolour.

Add on Goodreads

 

(Bolu Babalola is a debut author. Love In Colour will be moved to the Debut Author’s list at the end of the series)

 

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46. The Infinite (Leap Cycle) by Patience Agbabi

Genre: Science Fiction

Category: Kidlit/MG

Expected Release Date: April 2, 2020

FIGHT CRIME, ACROSS TIME!

‘Vivid, funny, exciting and inventive’ PHILIP PULLMAN
‘Has a magic all of its own’ BERNARDINE EVARISTO
‘What an inspiration. The future just got so much better’ BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH

Leaplings, children born on the 29th of February, are very rare. Rarer still are Leaplings with The Gift – the ability to leap through time. Elle Bíbi-Imbelé Ifíè has The Gift, but she’s never used it. Until now.

On her twelfth birthday, Elle and her best friend Big Ben travel to the Time Squad Centre in 2048. Elle has received a mysterious warning from the future. Other Leaplings are disappearing in time – and not everyone at the centre can be trusted.

Soon Elle’s adventure becomes more than a race through time. It’s a race against time. She must fight to save the world as she knows it – before it ceases to exist . . .

Amazon

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47. The Secret Women by Sheila Williams

Genre: Contemporary
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: June 9, 2020

The author of Dancing on the Edge of the Roof, now a Netflix film starring Alfre Woodard, returns with a riveting, emotionally rich, novel that explores the complex relationship between mothers and daughters in a fresh, vibrant way—a stunning page-turner for fans of Terry McMillan, Tayari Jones, and Kimberla Lawson Roby.
Elise Armstrong, Carmen Bradshaw, and DeeDee Davis meet in a yoga class. Though vastly different, these women discover they all have one thing in common: their mothers have recently passed away. Becoming fast friends, the trio make a pact to help each other sort through the belongings their mothers’ left behind. But when they find old letters and diaries, Elise, Carmen, and DeeDee are astonished to learn that each of their mothers hid secrets—secrets that will transform their own lives.
Meeting each month over margaritas, the trio share laughter, advice, and support. As they help each other overcome challenges and celebrate successes, Elise, Carmen, and DeeDee gain not only a better understanding of the women their mothers were, but of themselves. They also come to realize they have what their mothers needed most but did not have during difficult times—other women they could trust.
Filled with poignant life lessons, The Secret Women pays tribute to the power of friendship and family and the bonds that tie us together. Beautiful, full of spirit and heart, it is a thoughtful and ultimately uplifting story of unconditional love.

Add on Goodreads

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48. If I Had Two Wings: Stories by Randall Keenan

Genre: Contemporary
Category: Anthology
Expected Release Date: August 4, 2020

When Randall Kenan’s first collection was published, the New York Times called it “nothing short of a wonder-book.” Now, with inventiveness seasoned by maturity and shot through with humor, Kenan riffs on appetites of all kinds, on the eerie persistence of history, on unstoppable losses and unexpected salvations.
In Kenan’s fictional territory of Tims Creek, North Carolina, an old man rages in his nursing home, a parson beats up an adulterer, a rich man is haunted by a hog, and an elderly woman turns unwitting miracle worker. A retired plumber travels to Manhattan, where Billy Idol sweeps him into his entourage. An architect who lost his famous lover to AIDS reconnects with a high school fling. Howard Hughes seeks out the woman who once cooked him butter beans.
A rich chorus of voices and visions, dreams and prophecies, marked by physicality and spirit, If I Had Two Wings is a glory.

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49. The Coyotes of Carthage by Steven Wright

Genre: Contemporary
Category: Adult
Expected Date of Publication: April 14, 2020

Toussaint Andre Ross has one more shot. Despite being a successful African-American political consultant, his aggressive tactics have tarnished his firm’s reputation. Now his boss and mentor Mrs. Fitz, who plucked him from juvenile incarceration and shepherded his career, is exiling him to the boondocks of South Carolina with $250,000 of dark money to introduce a ballot initiative on behalf of a mining company. The goal: to manipulate the locals into voting in favor of the sale of pristine public land to the highest bidder.
Dre arrives in God-fearing, flag-waving Carthage County, an area America’s New Economy has left behind, with only Mrs. Fitz’s well-meaning yet naïve grandson Brendan on his “team.” A local is needed as a strawman to collect signatures, and Dre hires blue-collar couple, oafish Tyler Lee and his pious wife Chalene, to act as the initiative’s public face.
Under Dre’s cynical direction, a land grab is disguised as a righteous fight for faith and liberty. As lines are crossed and lives ruined, Dre’s increasingly cutthroat campaign threatens the last remnants of his own humanity and the very soul of Carthage County.
A piercing portrait of our fragile democracy and one man’s unraveling, THE COYOTES OF CARTHAGE may very well be the political novel of our times.

Add on Goodreads

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50. We’re Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

Genre: Contemporary
Category: Adult
Expected Date of Publication: _2020

Simon & Schuster senior editor Christine Pride struck a six-figure North American rights agreement with William Morrow to pen two novels, cowritten with author Jo Piazza (How to Be Married). The first book, We Are Not Like Them, is, Morrow said, “in the vein of Jodi Picoult” and follows the enduring friendship between two women—a successful African-American TV journalist and a working-class white woman married to a cop. Alexanda Machinist at ICM Partners represented the authors.

Add on Goodreads

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51. Telephone by Percival Everett

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: May 5, 2020

Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area—the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon—he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches.
After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, she has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter’s slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he’s ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission.
A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.

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[Cover to be revealed]

52. Seeds of Cain by Agnes Gomillion

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Category: YA
Expected Publication Date: June 16, 2020

Return to the startlingly original world of The Record Keeper in this stunning sequel. Join Arika Cobane as she continues her fight for freedom.

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53. The Perceptionist by Mo’Reese Madu

Genre: Fantasy
Category: Adult
Expect Release Date: August 18, 2020

Five Points Village is one of the last historic black communities left in South Carolina. But it’s quickly on the decline, as its residents have been plagued for years with drug trafficking, health disparities, business failures, and gentrification; among many other issues that affect the masses of Black America.
Fortunately, when all hope seems lost, a mysterious woman named Asè has a supernatural way of showing up in people’s lives at just the right time. An old woman with a youthful appearance, rocking locks, hand-made African dresses and jewelry, toting a peculiar leather duffel bag, Asè is a breath of fresh air with divine foresight. In her various interactions, she grants the people of Five Points with the priceless gift of discernment—helping them see the answers to all of their problems are hidden beneath their wounds.
The Perceptionist speaks to the heart in all black folks yearning to understand why we continually suffer and what we can do overcome our plight. Each chapter tackles a different obstacle with simple empowering solutions. Your chance to pivot and transform your life awaits you in the cultural wisdom and uplifting story of a woman named Asè.

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[Cover to be Revealed]

54. Fat Time: Stories by Jeffery Renard Allen

Genre:
Category: Anthology
Expected Release Date: 2020

FAT TIME is the powerful new collection from PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Jeffery Renard Allen. Encompassing ten short stories, the collection is loosely linked around African notions of time and place, along with African views of space, cosmology, and metaphysics. The stories are set in invented locations in both Africa and America and play out over a continuum of time

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55. Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: September 8, 2020

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.
Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.
Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.
Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will leave you aching for the world it burns into being.

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56. Her Twin Baby Secret by Therese Beharie

by Therese Beharie

Genre: Romance
Category: Adult
Publication Date: February 1, 2020

Could her biggest competition… become her babies’ father?
Alexa Moore is the definition of empowered and independent. She runs her own successful business and she’s decided to start the family she’s longed-for—by herself! But after business rival Benjamin Foster comes to her rescue and pretends to be her boyfriend for a night, their earth-shattering kiss sparks Alexa’s desire to share much more with him… can she find her Happily-Ever-After with this unexpected love?

From Harlequin Romance: Be swept away by glamorous and heartfelt love stories.
“…this is my favourite book by this author. It made me laugh out loud several times…this was well-written and introspective with convincing, 3 dimensional characters. Highly recommended and chuckle-worthy.”
—Goodreads on Island Fling with the Tycoon
“All in all, From Heiress to Mom is a delightful, funny, sweet, excellently paced, and very real book. You can tell that a lot of love and care has been put into this book, and if I’m honest, that’s really refreshing for a romance novel.”
—Goodreads

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57. Pale by Edward A. Farmer

Genre: Historical Fiction
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: May 19, 2020

“Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”
The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.
The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest and the appearance of Jesse and Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed and destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.
Bernice walks the fine line between emissary and accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, and no one will come out unscathed.
With a dazzling voice and rich emotional tension, Pale explores the ties that bind and how quickly humanity can fade and return us to primal ways.

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58. Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Baron

by Rena Baron

Genre: Fantasy
Category: MG
Expected Release Date: May 5, 2020

After her father goes missing, 12-year-old Maya uncovers that he is the keeper of the gateway between our world and The Dark. To find her father, she’ll need to unlock her own powers and fight a horde of creatures set on starting a war. Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson set on the south side of Chicago.

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59. Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall

Genre: Historical Fiction, Music
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: August 18, 2020

An enthralling literary tour-de-force that pays tribute to Detroit’s legendary neighborhood, a mecca for jazz, sports, and politics, Black Bottom Saints is a powerful blend of fact and imagination reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow’s classic novel Ragtime and Marlon James’ Man Booker Award-winning masterpiece, A Brief History of Seven Killings.
From the Great Depression through the post-World War II years, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, has been the pulse of Detroit’s famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist for the city’s African-American newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, he is also the emcee of one of the hottest night clubs, where he’s rubbed elbows with the legendary black artists of the era, including Ethel Waters, Billy Eckstein, and Count Basie. Ziggy is also the founder and dean of the Ziggy Johnson School of Theater. But now the doyen of Black Bottom is ready to hang up his many dapper hats.
As he lays dying in the black-owned-and-operated Kirkwood Hospital, Ziggy reflects on his life, the community that was the center of his world, and the remarkable people who helped shape it.
Inspired by the Catholic Saints Day Books, Ziggy curates his own list of Black Bottom’s venerable “52 Saints.” Among them are a vulnerable Dinah Washington, a defiant Joe Louis, and a raucous Bricktop. Randall balances the stories of these larger-than-life “Saints” with local heroes who became household names, enthralling men and women whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City’s Harlem.
Accompanying these “tributes” are thoughtfully paired cocktails—special drinks that capture the essence of each of Ziggy’s saints—libations as strong and satisfying as Alice Randall’s wholly original view of a place and time unlike any other.

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60. Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham

Genre: Historical Fiction
Category: Adult
Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Following the fate of one family over the course of two decades in Nigeria, this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency, love, and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life.
“I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin. To have no memory of ever being alone.”
Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife, and the family, facing poverty, becomes drawn into the New Church, an institution led by a charismatic pastor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth.
Soon Bibike and Ariyike’s father wagers the family home on a “sure bet” that evaporates like smoke. As their parents’ marriage collapses in the aftermath of this gamble, the twin sisters and their two younger siblings, Andrew and Peter, are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother. Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them, the twins’ paths diverge once the household shatters. Each girl is left to locate, guard, and hone her own fragile source of power.
Written with astonishing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate, Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday takes us into the chaotic heart of family life, tracing a line from the euphoria of kinship to the devastation of estrangement. In the process, it joyfully tells a tale of grace and connection in the midst of daily oppression and the constant incursions of an unremitting patriarchy. This is a novel about two young women slowly finding, over twenty years, in a place rife with hypocrisy but also endless life and love, their own distinct methods of resistance and paths to independence.

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(Tola Rotimi Abraham is a debut author. Black Sunday will be moved to the Debut Author list at the end of the blog series)

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61. The Fugitivities by Jesse McCarthy

Genre: Contemporary
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: May 19, 2020

After a difficult first year teaching at a Brooklyn public high school, Jonah Winters decides to leave his job to vagabond through South America with his friend Octavio. Before he departs, Jonah has a troubled night of revelry and self-destruction, only to be rescued from arrest by former basketball star Nathaniel Archimbald who brings him back to his Bronx home.
While recovering from his hangover, Jonah converses with Nathaniel about former lives and loves. The son of American expats, Jonah recalls living a cushy post-undergraduate life in Paris working as an apprentice film projectionist, a one-time girlfriend that still has his heart, and the decision to teach in Brooklyn.
Nathaniel tells Jonah that he too has lived in Paris, where he resumed the studies he had abandoned to play basketball professionally. There he fell in love with a Parisian graduate student named Laura Pertrossian, who abruptly left not only him, but her entire life for a South American destination unknown. Nathaniel, in his grief, returned him to coach basketball for kids living in low-income neighborhoods.
When he is unable to persuade Jonah to remain a teacher, Nathaniel hands him a letter to give to Laura were he to find her during his travels. Jonah and Octavio depart for Rio de Janeiro where Jonah discovers how different it is to be a black North American in South America. When Octavio falls in love with a Brazilian art student, Jonah finds himself making his way down the Southern Cone alone where a chance encounter will change the way he sees everything.

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62. Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone

Genre: Science Fiction
Category: MG
Expected Release Date: May 5, 2020

From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes an all-new upper middle grade series based on one of the Marvel Universe’s break-out characters— Shuri, from Black Panther!
An original, upper-middle-grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone. Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.
For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t save them. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.

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63. Stateway’s Garden: Stories by Jasmon Drain

Genre: Nonfiction
Category: YA
Publication Date: January 2020

Before being torn down in 2007, the Stateway Gardens public housing projects on Chicago’s South Side were ridden with deprivation and crime. But for some, like Tracy, the shy, intelligent young boy at the center of this enthralling collection of linked stories, they are simply home. Set in the mid-1980s and taking readers up to the point of the destruction of the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects—a set of buildings similar in design to Stateway Gardens to the south—this collection gives an intimate look at the hopes, dreams, failures, and fortunes of a group of people growing up with the deck always stacked against them. Through Jasmon Drain’s sensitive and often playful prose, we see another side of what we have come to know as “the projects.”
Stateway’s Garden is a coming-of-age story told in short stories, through the lens of a childhood made rough by the crush of poverty and violence, with the crack epidemic a looming specter ahead. And yet, through the experiences and ambitions of Tracy and other young characters, Drain reveals a vibrant community that creates its own ecosystem, all set in a series of massive, seemingly soulless concrete buildings. Not shying away from the darkness of life for his characters, Drain shows the full complexity of their human experiences.
Exquisitely detailed and novelistic in scope, this collection of stories will linger in your mind long after you have turned the final page.

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64.Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins

Genre: Nonfiction
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: May 12, 2020

“One of the smartest young writers of her generation.”—Book Riot

From the acclaimed cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing—a writer whom Roxane Gay has hailed as “a force to be reckoned with”—comes this powerful story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.
Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California.
Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history.
Incisive and illuminating, Wandering in Strange Lands is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.

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65. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston, Genevieve West & Tayari Jones

Genre: Historical Fiction
Category: Adult, Anthology
Publication Date: January 14, 2020

From “one of the greatest writers of our time” (Toni Morrison)—the author of Barracoon and Their Eyes Were Watching God—a collection of remarkable stories, including eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance tales now available to a wide audience for the first time.

Newsweek’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020, Forbes.com’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020, Publishers Weekly’s Notable Titles
In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston—the sole black student at the college—was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.” During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.

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66. Ikenga by Nnedi Okarafor

Genre: Fantasy
Category: MG
Expected Release Date: August 18, 2020

Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a mystical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?

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67. Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Category: Adult
Expected Release Date: March 5, 2020

From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, comes a wise and witty novel about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .45 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.

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68. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Category: Adult
Publication Date: January 21, 2020

“Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether.”—Marlon James

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down.

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That Can Be Arranged [ARC Review]

BLURB

Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

So relevant in today’s evolving cultural climate, Fahmy’s story offers a perceptive and personal glimpse into the sometimes sticky but ultimately rewarding balance of independent choice and tradition.

5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Beautiful and full of impact, a story of love in all its forms, That Can Be Arranged is one my favourite books ever.

I read That Can Be Arranged late last month and I loved it! That Can Be Arranged is a comic about the author, Huda Fahmy’s, love story. I can’t list the books I read in one sitting or books I enjoyed as much. That Can be Arranged was so cute, precious and relatable, I couldn’t help it.

That Can Be Arranged is a beautiful, humorous halal story of the author’s road to finding love and marriage.

I adored everything about the book; Huda’s drawing style, her writing voice and the story itself. I love how she made such an obviously difficult personal journey into something so light and fun. Every single part of Huda’s story is relatable; from the talking aunties who are ever present almost every Muslim community regardless of race, the way she held on fast to her beliefs when she was young (yes young Huda, i understand you and we inhabit the hill together), to when those beliefs shifted, to the rules — God, yes the rules! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so understood when reading a book.

Apart from being cute and relatable, TCBA also touched some really important topics about relationships and marriage. Trying to fix ones self because of a person — especially when you’ve been alone or haven’t had someone interested in you for a while —,the signs of toxic relationship and an abuser, and the lofty ideas people tend to have about marriage, and attaining a balance between having standards and building castles in the sky.

At this point, I’m pretty much gushing about this book, but I can’t help it. I had wandered into That Can Be Arranged only expecting a cute love story, not something so wholesome.

That Can Be Arranged is a beautiful lesson in love and life.

 

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Will you be reading That Can Be Arranged?

 

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The Black Experience: Being An African Blogger

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Today’s post is by Sakhile from Sakhile Whispers. Sakhile is a South African blogger, and she talks about the struggle of being an African blogger.


Being a black book blogger is difficult. Now add being an African book blogger into the mix and things get pretty difficult. The culture of reading in Africa is very different from everywhere else. I’ve loved reading since I was a child but only got into blogging two years ago. I found a place where I could talk about the books that I loved without getting a side-eye for reading “children’s books.” YA is, unfortunately for me, a little frowned upon.

Blogging as an African is different to being a black blogger anywhere else. Often times I feel like no one really cares what actual Africans think about African rep. Our voices are often silenced when this is discussed. 2019 was a great year for Fantasy based around different cultures. I loved that so much but there’s this idea that there is one African culture and I just…*pinches nose*

African cultures (plural) are not the same so when we get African based fantasy books I’m stuck between feeling this is awesome and not being able to articulate why it’s not awesome when different cultures from different areas in Africa are placed together (I’m looking at you Black Panther) as if we’re all a stone’s throw away from each other. There are so many different African languages and cultures it would make your head spin.

Accessibility is a major problem that we face as African bloggers. Not just access to opportunities but books as well. I’m fortunate enough to live in South Africa which is one (if not the only) of the African countries that are recognised by international publishers. Sometimes it’s difficult to even get ebooks on Amazon because they’re not available in your region or they cost twice as much as the hardback version (please make this make sense). Access to resources and libraries is something that a lot of us struggle with.

***

I love being a book blogger. I love being African. There are very few of us and it’s difficult to find each other in such a saturated environment that’s more about window-dressing diversity than actual diversity. Here’s to finding more African book bloggers this year! I know you’re out there.

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