Happy New Year! To buffer ourselves against the (not inconceivable) event 2021 is not the safe harbour we’re hoping for, I suggest the following. Read through the 2021 upcoming books, highlight those you like and preorder a book for every month of the year. Every 30 days you’ll get a delivery, like a gift from the abyss, a new book to bring you light and joy regardless of how the year shapes up.
- A River Called Time by Courttia Newland
In a parallel London where colonialism and slavery never existed, Markriss Denny becomes one of the few selected for a job and a home in the Ark. It was originally built to save many but has rapidly became a refuge for the elite. Markriss soon discovers someone else has the same ability to leave their body and travel.
2. Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
When Fatima finds a seed beneath her family’s shea tree, mysterious powers soon follow. She becomes Sankofa, a girl wo can kill with a look, the adopted daughter of death. Her gift earns her respect and fear but it takes time to learn how best to wield it.
3. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
22-year-old Darren lives in New York with his mother who longs to see him live up to his potential. But Darren is content working at Starbucks, hanging out with his girlfriend, and eating his mother’s cooking. A chance encounter with a tech startup CEO leads to a job with an elite sales team. Darren is the only Black person in the company and soon decides the best way to survive his openly racist colleagues is to commodify his Blackness and reimagine himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman. When tragedy strikes at home, Buck hatches a plan to help young people of color enter America’s sales force and achieve the “American dream.”
4. Sleep Well, My Lady by Kwei Quartey
Talk show host Augustus Seeza has become a household name in Ghana, despite rumors of lavish overspending, alcoholism, and womanizing. His affair with the wealthy and beautiful Lady Araba ends abruptly when she is found murdered in her bed. Emma Djan, the only female PI at her agency, is commissioned to investigate the murder. She embarks on an undercover mission that dredges up trauma from her past and turns up a range of suspects – one of whom may still be willing to kill.
5. The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson
When Mia is tasked with finding a date to her bridezilla sister’s wedding, her options are severely limited. Her friends leap in to help and devise a crazy plan inspired by the rom-com films Mia hates.
6. Roman & Jewel by Dana L. Davis
Jerzie is crushed when she is cast as the understudy and not the lead in the new Romeo and Juliet hip-hopera, Roman and Jewel. Things grow complicated when she falls for Zeppelin, the male lead. When a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral, the entire world starts to weigh in on who should play Jewel.
7. Open Water By Caleb Azumah Nelson
Two Black British artists meet in a pub in South East London. He a photographer, she a dancer. Both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are trying to make their mark in a city that celebrates and rejects them. They fall in love but fear and violence threaten to tear them apart.
8. Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson
It’s open mic night and Nala is crushing on Tye Brown, the MC. But while she prefers to watch movies and eat ice cream, activist Tye is spending his summer putting on community events. Determined to impress, she tells a few white lies in an effort to pretend they have more in common. As she falls harder for Tye, the web of lies becomes harder to maintain.
9. Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Astronomist and overachiever Grace Porter is definitely not the type to get drunk in Vegas and wind up married. Except, that’s exactly what she’s done. At least her new wife, Yuki Yamamoto, is kind and beautiful.
10. The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu
Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. It’s an easy job until a child goes missing and the dead start to whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them empty husks. Now Ropa feels compelled to investigate. She’ll need to call on both her Zimbabwean magic and her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, she starts to feel hunted.
11. An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon
Oto is intersex and forced to live as a boy although certain they’re a girl. Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape their cruel home. There Oto falls in love with their roommate, but fear and shame force them to hide their true self.
Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, their world crumbling around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family forever.
12. Who’s Loving You: Love Stories By Women of Colour, edited by Sareeta Domingo
Forbidden love. Lost love. Unrequited love. Love so powerful that it can transcend countries, continents and even the boundaries of time. The collection features stories by a line of up of exciting UK authors including Danielle DASH, Sareeta Domingo, Dorothy Koomson, and Kelechi Okafor.
13. How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
The fictional African village of Kosawa is under threat from environmental degradation caused by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have wrecked the land. Children are dying from toxic water. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, only serves its own interest. It’s up to the village people to fight back in a modern David and Goliath battle.
14. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Gifty is a neuroscience student at Stanford School of Medicine. Her brother died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother won’t get out of bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences for answers, she hungers for her childhood faith and the evangelical church she was raised in.
15. His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
Young seamstress, Afi Tekple, lives in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother. She spends a large chunk of her time in her uncle Pious’s house with his many wives and children. Her life is mundane until she receives a marriage proposal from a wealthy man she barely knows. She accepts but soon realizes that he is not quite the catch he seemed. He sends a stand-in to their wedding and she soon discovers he is in love with a woman that his family disapproves of. Afi is expected to win him back for the family, but it is the city of Accra that steals her heart and fulfills her wishes.
16. A Game of Cones by Abby Collette
Bronwyn Crewse is delighted that Crewse Creamery, her family’s ice cream shop, has been restored to its former glory in the small, picturesque town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. But when a big city developer comes to town intent on building a mall, a killer with a frozen heart takes him out. After stumbling across the body, one of Win’s closest friends becomes the prime suspect. Win has to prove her friend’s innocence and save her ice cream shop from an annoying aunt intent on seizing control.
17. The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
A conscripted soldier, stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire has her loyalties tested when she’s sent to quell a rebellion in her homeland.
18. Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Eve has tried to straighten out her life, but every move results in disaster. When she accidentally ruins an expensive wedding and unintentionally runs into the B&B owner with her car, she has to scramble to clean up another mess. Jacob’s arm is broken, yet as Eve flutters around trying to make things better, he finds himself falling for the crazy lady.
19. Lightseekers by Femi Kayode
Three young students are murdered in a sleepy Nigerian university town. Their killers are caught on social media but no one knows the motivation. Investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo travels to Nigeria hoping to uncover the cause of the killings.
20 Life After Death by Sister Souljah
Unforgettable heroine Winter Santiaga, daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealer, is ready to leave jail and reclaim her throne.
21. The Fugitives by Jamal Mahjoub
The Kamanga Kings, a Sudanese jazz band, is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime when a surprise letter arrives inviting them to perform in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, the band no longer exists. Rushdy is a disaffected secondary school teacher and the son of an original Kamanga King. Determined to see life beyond his home, he sets out to revive the band.
22. Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Vern is seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised. She flees to the woods and gives birth to twins. She plans to raise them alone but the community she fled will not let her go. Pushed to the limit, her body begins to change enabling her to unleash incredible brutality against the people hunting her.
23. Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
Tilla has spent her life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns home to Jamaica. When Tilla is sent to Jamaica for the summer she dreads seeing her father, but also longs to discover the magic that life in Jamaica holds for him.
24. Off the Record by Camryn Garrett
When 17-year-old journalist Josie wins a contest to write a profile about a celebrity heart-throb, she’s elated and terrified. But while on a multi-city tour, a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret about a huge star. More women share their stories. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, scared to betray those who have trusted her and to jeopardize her own career. But if she doesn’t speak up, who will?
25. Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
In the thriving city of Bassa, a clever but disillusioned scholar longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded, hailing from a place that doesn’t exist, and wielding mythical magic. The two set out on a remarkable journey.
26. Summer on The Bluffs by Sunny Hostin
Three siblings fight to prove themselves worthy of stewarding the family’s summer cottage in the exclusive Black beach community of Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. A place where the money is old, and the secrets are deadly.
27. How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Makeda Hicks discovers her grandmother’s affair with an Iberian Prince has left her as heir to the country’s monocracy. She’s just lost her job and her girlfriend and is more focused on fixing her life than claiming a throne, but a change in circumstance, and a sexy stranger soon have her reconsidering.
28. The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi travels to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and finds his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They both claim to be the mother of a baby boy alseep in a crib. Who is telling the truth?
29. Assembly by Natasha Brown
An unnamed black British woman who has spent her life climbing against the current, navigating the cut-throat world of investment banking, is invited to attend a garden party at a country estate owned by her boyfriend’s parents. As the garden party looms, she reflects on her life and begins to look hard at those who have spent their lives watching her.
30. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
26-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is exhausted at being the only Black employee at Wagner, a prestigious NYC publishing house. She’s delighted when a young Black woman is hired in the cubicle next to her. That is, until anonymous notes pleading for Nella to leave Wagner begin appearing on her desk and tales of other Black employees who’ve disappeared at the height of their career reach her.
31. Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide
When someone begins spreading rumours about the only two Black students at an elite private school, they are forced to fight – not just for their reputations, but for their lives too.
32. A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams
An ambitious bridal gown designer and a widowed war vet forge an unlikely relationship in a Charleston bridal shop. As the pair discover love in the low country, they consider what it means to be successful and happy.
33. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Two writers who once spent a passionate week as lovers in their teens reconnect as adults. They try to resist the pull of a bygone summer affair but the chemistry is undeniable. Soon they’re back in full blown romance mode, but unanswered questions threaten any possible future.
34. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
Toni is desperate to get back to loving music after the loss of her father. Olivia has just gone through another heartbreak. The two run into each other at a music festival and begin to bond, but when something goes wrong they will need each other and music to make it through.
35. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
An enslaved woman born on the tiny Caribbean island of Monserrat raises the money to buy her freedom from her Irish planter father. She then proceeds to build a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter. Her assets extend from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a luxury hotel in South America. Based on the life of Montserratian legend, Dorothy Kirwan Thomas.
36. Only On The Weekends by Dean Atta
15-year-old Mack is delighted to be in a relationship with Karim. But when Mack moves from London to Scotland, he discovers long-distance can be painful. And when he falls for actor Finlay on a film set he dreads the day his old and new life collide.
37. The Upper World by Femi Fadugba
Esso gets caught up in a deadly feud when he realizes he has the ability to access a world where he can see glimpses of the past and the future. A generation away, Rhia is walking to football practice in 2035, unaware that the mysterious stranger she’s about to meet needs her help to avert a bullet fired fifteen years ago. (Netflix has landed the rights to adapt this debut sci-fi novel into a feature film. Daniel Kaluuya is attached to star.)
38. Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe
Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm anyone. He is first-generation Haitian, a star debater, trusted dog-walker and popular student at his prestigious school. The one person immune to his charms is his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers his less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Soon a mutual hustle blossoms into something more.
39. Untitled Space Opera by Tade Thompson
A colony ship docks in the Lagos system after travelling light years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to safety among the stars. Some of the sleepers will never wake – victims of a profound and sinister mystery aboard the space vessel. The skeleton crew are forced to make decisions that will have repercussions for all of humanity’s settlements.
40. My Life as a Chameleon by Diana Anyakwo
Lily is the daughter of an Irish mother and a Nigerian father who suffers from schizophrenia. She is sent to live in Manchester where she struggles to fit in. There she witnesses racism and violence and experiences poverty for the first time. She returns to Lagos when her father’s health starts to deteriorate. As she helps care for him, they finally find the connection they’d struggled to make during his lifetime.
thank you so much for featuring my novel My Life as a Chameleon! Can’t wait to read these novels!
Diana Anyakwo xx
It’s a pleasure, Diana! Well done for translating what sounds like such a tough experience into story form. I know we’ll all be enriched by your work.
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Thank you x
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