One of my favourite books this year has been ‘The Comeback’ by Lily Chu. It’s a sweet, romantic comedy about a workaholic, corporate lawyer – Ariadne Hui – whose life is upended when her roommate invites her gorgeous cousin to stay in their small apartment. Unknown to Ari, the quiet, artistic South Korean guy loafing on her couch is one of the biggest k-pop musicians in the world. Lily Chu has created two compelling, charming characters whose growing relationship propels them to liberate themselves from the expectations of others and discover what they really want from life. It’s a joyful, thrilling ride of a story that I whipped through in record time.
I’m on a mission to learn more about life in pre-colonial Africa. I’ve started with West Africa, specifically the Yoruba peoples and it is a fascinating journey so far. Here are three books I’ve been reading and how they come at the subject matter from different angles.
I’ve selected 10 books that I’d like to read or listen to (hello audio books) in 2022. Since I’m obsessed with Black Joy, I’ve tried to choose titles that have more light than dark.
A second chance romance about two successful writers – Eva Mercy and Shane Hall – who survived brutal childhoods and an epic romance that ultimately crashed and burned in their teens.
The interwebs tell me August was Romance Awareness Month. Although we’ve missed that delightful bus, I offer up this sparkly selection of romance novels because (1) we should celebrate romance every day (2) we’re going to need some tingly happiness to handle the annual slide from flip flops and ice cream to hot chocolate and falling leaves. Give yourself an extra challenge and try an author you haven’t read before.
It’s been three years since a I wrote a blog post lamenting the paucity of books with Black lead characters for tween boys. In that post I recounted how I’d tried and failed to find five books with a Black boy protagonist that wasn’t about police brutality, drugs, gangs, social injustice or any other trauma. This summer a friend messaged me asking for book recommendations for her tween nephew so I decided to give the experiment another try. The offerings have grown slightly but it’s still an uphill struggle to find books with Black boy leads that aren’t centered on trauma. I really hope the next time I run this experiment there is more fantasy in the mix. I’m longing for Black boy heroes wielding swords, casting spells, joining secret crime fighting organisations, travelling to space, inventing gadgets and other out-of-the-box fare. I want Black writers to write their truths, to reflect the many worlds Black boys live in, to be unapologetic. But I also want escapism and magic for all children, especially Black boys. …
Jane McKeene is born two days before the dead start to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg. She’s drafted into one of many combat schools set up by the government for Black and indigenous children where they are prepared for a life as cannon fodder.
A slice of life novel about a young woman living in impoverished circumstances in the Ghanaian village of Ho, who gets the opportunity to marry into a wealthy family. Afi, the protagonist, is beautiful and smart but has done poorly in her secondary school exams and can’t Ghana’s public universities. Instead she faces a life playing seamstress to the unexciting women of Ho.
I remember the day I walked through Foyles bookshop in Tottenham Court Road and literally stopped in my tracks. I’d spotted Do You Dream of Terra Two? on a shelf in the distance and was trying to discern whether the cover truly featured a Black girl in an astronaut helmet. I ran over. No, I wasn’t hallucinating; she was really there. It sounds ridiculous, I’d read a million books set in space, but I’d never seen a Black girl on the cover of a space adventure before. I’d never seen not even close. My eyes zipped down to the author’s name. Temi Oh. My heart gave a leap of excitement. I was 98% sure the author was Nigerian. I put Google straight to work and a few weeks later I was sitting in a West London coffee shop with Temi Oh, gushing over that arresting cover. “You don’t really get a lot of control over the cover as a writer,” she’d admitted. “I told them I definitely want a Black woman. I was really happy …
In September 2020 Lisa Bent released her debut novel, Symona’s Still Single, the story of a 37-year old Jamaican British woman looking for Mr. Right while trying not to panic at the loud ticking of her biological clock. Symona’s Still Single was launched by indie publisher, Jacaranda as part of their ground-breaking #Twentyin2020 initiative whereby they would publish 20 Black British authors in one year. It’s a funny, charming romance made richer with stories of female friendship. Lisa’s counselling degree and belief in the power of continuous self-reflection colour her writing and are visible in the experiences and adventures of Symona as she searches for love. I put 10 questions to Lisa and she provided some fascinating answers. 1. How did you hit upon this idea for a book? I was a social commentator on Facebook. From politics, bus antics to social issues and dating trials and tribulations, I made my opinion known. My dating posts always created the most interest, but it wasn’t until December 2017 that I realised I was onto something. My …