In celebration of Black History Month, Black Advocacy Coalition (BACupNorth) has gathered a collection of books written by Black authors from around the world. The books on this list span many genres -- from historical fiction and autobiography, to sci-fi and more. Some stories tackle complex issues such as intergenerational trauma, racism and reclaiming one’s identity. Others celebrate love, community, and resilience. One thing they all have in common is the ability to pull readers in from the first sentence.
Fifteen Dogs, by Canadian author Andre Alexis
Set in Toronto, the story has the gods Hermes and Apollo make a bet and give 15 dogs human knowledge to find out, “if animals were granted human intelligence, would they die happier or unhappier?” Faced with complex thoughts, the pack is divided between those who embrace the change and those who don’t. Fifteen Dogs challenges the reader to recall the age-old question, “What’s the meaning of life?”. It's also the first book to win both Canada Reads and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, retold by Bolu Babalola
Written by British-Nigerian author Bolu Babalola, Love in Color is a collection of 13 love stories from history and mythology retold with a modern twist. Ten of the stories are retellings about famous figures, one of which is Egyptian queen Nefertiti. The remaining stories are originals by Babalola. While most stories are inspired by West African folktales, others reimagine myths and legends from the Middle East, China, and Greece. Although the stories focus on love, don't expect a fairytale.
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing, follows the descendants of two half-sisters in Ghana, Effia and Esi. While Effia and her descendants stay in Ghana, Esi is sold into slavery and shipped to America, where her descendants will live. Each chapter alternates between Effia and Esi’s families -- from centuries of warfare in Ghana, to the plantations of the south and the Civil War to 20th century Harlem. Homegoing explores how identity can be shaped by historical forces beyond one's control and what it truly means to return home.
Marianne Face aux Faussaires, by Fatou Diome
In her book, Marianne Fatou asks the following question, “Peut-on devenir français?”. This is a question that is very relatable, asked across different races by people who have immigrated from their homeland to another country - in our case, Canada. Many struggle to find and reconnect with their true identities and culture. There is an ongoing shift in the world with more Black people wanting to find their true identity. Fatou Diome sheds light on this and speaks to what it means to be Black and re-discovering one’s identity.
Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo
Written by Afro-Dominican author Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land is the story of two half-sisters who learn of one another after their father dies in a plane crash leaving New York for the Dominican Republic. Yahaira Rios lives in New York with her parents and attends a private school, while Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic with her aunt and waits for her father to visit in the summer.
In Bibi's Kitchen, by Hawa Hassan
In Bibi’s Kitchen presents 75 recipes from “Bibis” (also known as grandmothers) from eight African countries: Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Comoros, Tanzania, and Eritrea. Not only do these grandmothers share flavourful recipes with Somali chef Hawa Hassan, but they also share the history of spices from their home countries and stories of colonization, tradition, family, and love. In Bibi’s Kitchen honours all matriarchs that hold the world’s most important stories.
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Becoming is the memoir by former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Inviting readers into her world, Michelle Obama details the challenges that shaped her -- from her childhood on the southside of Chicago to balancing motherhood and a demanding career, to becoming the First Lady. Becoming is a memoir that defies expectations and encourages others to do the same.
Fate of Flames, by Canadian author Sarah Raughley
Fate of Flames revolves around the Effigies -- four girls with the power to control the elements, who must come together to save the world from a terrible evil. The young adult fiction is the first novel of The Effigies series by Canadian author Sarah Raughley.
- Guest blog by Nichelle Roberts, member of BACupNorth and Contributing Author; Diana Lubansa, member of BACupNorth