With summer nearing an end, we’re packing away our beach reads and curling up by the campfire with these new and upcoming works of literature by Black women authors. From timely literary essays to lyrical prose and short stories, here are five diverse books to add to your reading list.
1. What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
What We Lose is Zinzi Clemmons’ compelling debut novel about grief, identity, and acceptance. It follows Thandi, a young African-American woman struggling to transition into adulthood and accept the death of her mother. The novel focuses on both the past and the present, taking the reader on a remarkable, unsurpassed journey.
2. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Release date: September 5th, 2017
In Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward paints an intimate portrait of family, hope, and struggle through the viewpoint of a Mississippi family spanning three generations. In Ward’s distinctive lyrical yet tough language, the novelist examines undeniable truths such as brutal racial tensions in the modern-day American South and the immense weight of history.
3. The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison
Release date: September 18th, 2017
In her latest literary analysis, Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrision reflects on themes including race, borders, fears, the desire for belonging, and more. Revised from her Norton Lectures at Harvard, The Origin of Others includes six essays that consider how race is perceived, internalized, and culturally communicated.
4. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
Lesley Nneka Arimah’s remarkable debut collection of short stories explores the ties that connect parents and children, husbands and wives, and lovers and friends to one another. Using magical realism and sci-fi elements, Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky is sure to be a unique and compelling experience for readers.
5. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Release date: February 13th, 2018 (A winter special)
The highly anticipated debut novel Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi inspects the surreal, unsettling experience of having a fractured self. Ada, a young Nigerian woman, develops distinct selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Told from the viewpoint of the various selves within Ada, and deeply related to Emezi’s own experiences, Freshwater investigates identity and mental health, immersing the reader into the mystery of being.