Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Black History Month: Black Authors

 The photography contains the following authors/titles:
(the stars indicate newly discovered black authors )
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Walter Dean, Myers, Monster
Olaudah Equiano, The Life of Olaudah Equiano *
Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy
Andrea Levy, Small Island*
Margaret Cezair – Thompson, The Pirate’s Daughter
Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place
Ben Okri, the famished road *
Donald McRae, In Black & White *
Zadie Smith, White Teeth*
Toni Cade Bambara, Gorilla, My Love
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Alice Walker, The Colour Purple
Jacqueline Woodson, The House You Pass on the Way
L.A. Banks, The Awakening *
L.A. Banks, The Hunted *
L.A. Banks, Minion *
Charlotte Williams, Sugar and Slate  *
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes were Watching God
Ishmael Beah, a long way gone  *
Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore

Out of the 21 books I have listed here I have read 9. Some of the authors I'm familiar with others I haven't encountered before. One of the very first books I read by a black author was Toni Morrison's Beloved and I loved it. I remember to this way that it was a very powerful book and because the book was lent to me I purchased my own copy to have and go back to. I found Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a very moving and very touching read. It is an autobiography and I think this is one of the many reasons it is such a powerful and emotional read. It follows Maya throughout her life and there are many many emotional, hard and difficult moments in the book. Even if you aren't the type of person that usually reads autobiography I advice that you break your own rules for this one but this is a must read. I recently read The Other Wes Moore, which is another very moving account of the two very different lives of two black males in America. For me this book is a modern classic and I think that Moore has done a stellar job in illustrating a very brutal reality. One name and two fates - A story of tragedy and hope. This encapsulates the story as the two Wes's inhabit two different ends of the spectrum - one goes to prison for life and the other becomes a Rhodes Scholar. As Wes in the introduction states, "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his" and indeed this is the reality. They were both from Baltimore and shared similar histories but come to live drastically different lives and what Wes is saying is simply is that they he could have been in prison and the other Wes could have gone on to be a scholar. This book explores the reality they faced which lead them to where they are. It is a very moving book so again I urge you to go and read this book.

If non-fiction and autobiography aren't your cups of tea then worry not. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes were Watching God, is an amazing book. Janie the book's protagonist is independent, strong and resilient - I absolutely love her. It is a powerful story that shows Janie's quest for love and also her search identity. This book is another that falls into the category of a modern classic. In another very different genre is Myers's novel Monster, which is a book for young adult but it is one of those books that no matter what age you are you can read and enjoy. It is a very relevant and powerful read. The protagonist is Steve, a young black male (16 years) who's in jail and the book focus not only on his experience but also the unfairness/injustice of the system of law. It isn't surprising that it has received an award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and been a finalist of the National Book Award. I love this book and I'm going to read it again this February. In the genre of young adult fiction is Jacqueline Woodson's The House You Pass on the Way, but it deals with very different issues. The book deals with Staggerlee's identity struggle and her attraction to girls. This is another great book especially because it deals with issues which are significant but need even more attention and exploration.

As I make my way through the newly discovered authors I'll be posting an update :) .

This is a directory of black owned book stores http://huria.org/bookstores/ that you can support.  They have mortar and you can search by state and this is the link for the online stores http://huria.org/booksites/index.php  online stores could ship to your country if not usa but I'm not sure of the cost.

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