Author: Shade Lapite

How Racism in ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ mirrors life in the UK

I was in primary school when I first read Mildred D Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Cassie Logan was my hero. Dark skinned, kinky haired, bold and outspoken. However, her life with her three siblings, school-teacher mother, farmer father and Big Ma was something I did not envy, mired as it was by extreme poverty and violent, overt racism. It seemed a world away from my quiet life in South East London. I’ve read the novel many times since then. It has never felt dated or clichéd or simplistic. It is one of those remarkable books that will meet you whenever you are. As a child in the 1980s, I connected with the simple story– the protagonist overcoming a monster. I rooted for the family facing down the menace of racism. But it was very much like reading a fantasy novel, the spitting, clawing racism of Cassie’s world bore no resemblance to my reality. Her world was 1930s rural Mississippi, Mississippi Burning, Mississippi Goddam, as Nina Simone cursed it. It was lynchings, burning …

Black Books in Your Local Bookshop this March

I love going into Waterstones and just having a root around their shelves to see which black writers they have in store. Some days I’ll discover a new author, other days I get to rejoice over a familiar book that’s been reissued with a new jacket design.  It’s been quite a few a while since my last visit to my favourite Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus so there was plenty for me to appreciate this week. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton Two fantasy novels. Two black authors. Both highly anticipated and buttressed with serious marketing dollars. I hope this is a taste of things to come. Children of Blood and Bone Synopsis: Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without …

8 Online Bookish Spaces I Love

Searching out new books from black authors – the raison d’être of this little blog – often feels like combing through the stars for alien contact. No, really. Stay with me. If you’ve seen the 1997 sci-fi film, Contact, you’ll remember Jodie Foster lying on the hood of her car, parked in the middle of a field of giant telescopes, her headphones on, eyes closed, listening to the skies. There’s an awful lot of noise out there, but she’s sifting through it, listening for a pattern, a rhythm, an alien signal. Jodie Foster is me. Except I spend my time scanning a mishmash of social media, blogs, daily papers, podcasts and FM radio, my ears and eyes perked for The Signal. That rare mention of a new black book. And when I spot it, like Jodie, I swing into action, racing to trace the message back to its source. Who sent it? Why? Is the referenced author established or a newbie? Which publisher? Genre? Release date? The level of excitement is like NASA finding ET. …

Purple Mangoes by Louisa Ibhaze: An anthology with plenty to say about the modern African Woman

Purple Mangoes is a collection of 10 stories that explore womanhood in West Africa. The voices vary from story to story, each one sharp, distinct and revealing of another facet of the female experience in African society. The first time I read the collection I ached with the bleakness of it all. I lamented the short-sightedness of the women who crowded around a newborn in Baby Girl and discussed her like a commodity at the market.  “You know a good daughter will fetch a good bride price for her father, especially if she is hard working and beautiful.” I fumed on behalf of the adolescent in The Child Widow who is married off to an elderly man then accused of murdering him when he dies.

6 black books coming to your screen

  Taking a novel from page to screen is like putting a giant microphone in front of an author. The audience reach mushrooms like a chemical explosion. That’s why I get so excited when I hear a book by a black author has been picked up for a TV or film adaptation. I anticipate the author’s fanbase growing, their stories travelling further, the writer receiving greater recognition and (hopefully) more money for their work. It’s just a steady stream of upsides. Here are 6 books about to make the leap from page to screen.   1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin The American cable network, TNT is working on adapting the first book from N.K. Jemisin’s superb sci-fi series, The Broken Earth. Book 1 is called The Fifth Season and ushers us into a world plagued by catastrophic earthquakes, where mutants who can manipulate the earth are oppressed by humans.