5 Black Beach Reads for 2016

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I’ve seen a number of black reading lists for summer 2016 and I have to say, they feature an overabundance of weepy, traumatic or painfully intellectual recommendations.

It doesn’t take a data analyst to find the causal link between the dearth of black genre fiction and the lack of light-hearted (yet clever) summer reads. Here, I’ll draw the correlative line for you.

Luckily, my spidey senses are always attuned to the light-read frequency so here are five genre novels for you to enjoy in the sunshine.

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Chapters celebrates black writing

I was moseying around the Chapters in downtown Toronto today, just killing time before meeting a friend. It was great to see the variety of black authors on display for Black History Month.

The Motocyclist

The Motorcyclist

Carl Black is an intellectual and artist, a traveller, a reader and an unapologetic womanizer. A motorcyclist. He burns for the bohemian life, but is trapped in a railway porter’s prosaic— —existence. Taking place over one dramatic year in Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Motorcyclist recounts Carl’s travels and romantic exploits as he tours the backroads of the east coast and the bedrooms of a series of beautiful women. 

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What I’m reading this week

Shonda-Banner

During summer my Twitter feed informed me Shonda Rhimes would be writing a memoir. I made a mental note to get it next year when it was released. I should have known that a woman who successfully juggles three primetime TV shows would be just as efficient about putting together a book. Still, I gave a squeal of delight when my friend waved the hardcover tome at me in the quaint bookshop we had been picking through.

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3 Nigerian Travelogues

Any writer who sets out to capture the essence of the changeable, frenetic, off-the-Richter-scale nation that is Nigeria sets themselves a tall order. However, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Teju Cole – and more recently – Ifeanyi Awachie have each produced insightful, perceptive chronicles of their travel experiences in the West African country.

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10 Black Beach Reads

BeachreadIt’s that time of year. Time to pack a bag, pick a good book and head off to a sunny locale.

However, summer isn’t off to a great start. My Twitter timeline blew up last week as a number of influential, literature-loving publications unveiled their summer reading lists. Like many others I was amazed at how strikingly white the lists were, especially when so many incredible books have been released in 2015 by writers of colour. So here’s the remedy, 10 book suggestions designed to compliment sun-loungers across the globe. Don’t forget your sunscreen.

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Skies of Ash delivers the black, female detective the world’s been craving

SKIES OF ASHDetective Elouise ‘Lou’ Norton works the homicide beat in South LA. Sometimes investigations pull her down into The Jungle, a neighbourhood once named for the surrounding vegetation, but now known for the drugs and gangs that give it a wild air. Other times her work daws her into the affluent neighbourhoods nestled in the surrounding hills. It is in these hills that she’s called to investigate a house fire.

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Q&A with Christina C. Jones

Christina JonesI first heard of Christina C. Jones when she wrote a guest post for Quanie Miller’s blog on Five Ways To Build Your Author Platform. I nodded agreeably to all her advice, then did a double-take when I came to the Author Profile at the end and read that she’d written nine books since 2013. I immediately raced over to Amazon to read an extract from her latest novel at the time, the romantic suspense story  Catch Me If You Can. I swiftly confirmed that she was not only a prolific writer but also a highly talented one.

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Q&A with Havana Adams

Typing handsWhen I was a kid I would use a torch to read under my quilt long after ‘lights out’. Some books were just too good to leave unfinished. Reading Black Diamond, Havana Adams’ current release, took me right back to those days. I started reading it for a review but I Could. Not. Put. It. Down. The story of abandoned twin girls whose lives take vastly different turns after one is adopted by a Hollywood star and the other by a cruel pastor, sucked me in like quicksand. It was utterly brilliant from start to end.

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10 new black books to read in 2015

Maybe you’ve made a resolution to read more novels in 2015. Or possibly to read more widely, to explore new authors, new perspectives, alternative world views. I have compiled a list of 10 books scheduled for release in 2015 by 10 very individual authors. Whatever your goal, there’s something on this list that will meet it.

1. Disgruntled by Asali Solomon

3 Feb 2015

A coming-of-age story that follows pre-teen Kenya Curtis from her settled life in Philadelphia, through the breakdown of her afrocentric parents’ marriage and into the white, elite high school where she matures into womanhood.

Kenya is a larger-than-life personality and her experiences lead to explorations of race, feminism and sexuality that are witty and fresh.

Kenya Curtis must grow up quickly when herher afrocentric parents split and she's placed in a white private high school. 3 Feb 2015

 

2. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

April 2015

Toni Morrison’s 11th novel explores how childhood trauma can ripple down through the entire length of a life.

Toni Morrison's 11th novel explores how childhood trauma can ripple through the length of a life. Out April 2015.

3. Pleasantville by Attica Locke

April 2015

It’s election night in 1996 in Pleasantville, a neighbourhood populated with well-heeled blacks. It has been a heated campaign and when a girl goes missing the nephew of a candidate is arrested and a local lawyer finds himself putting life and reputation on the line.

http://www.atticalocke.com/

Pleasantville

 

4. The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

5 April 2015

We meet the central character, Memory, in a Harare jail. She has been convicted of murder and has been told to write a full account of the events in a bid to avoid the death penalty. Memory has been convicted of the murder of her adopted father but why did she kill him? And why does she feel no remorse? An intriguing tale unfolds.

http://www.faber.co.uk/author/petina-gappah/

Memory has been convicted of murder. As she awaits sentencing in a Harare jail she writes her confession hoping to avoid the death penalty. 4 April 2015

5. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Paperback out – 16 April 2015

Marlon James employs an impressive array of characters to tell the story of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. It’s a sweeping story that delves into the tangled relationship between politics and violent criminal gangs in 1970s Jamaica.

http://marlon-james.blogspot.ca/

A Brief History of Seven Killings

6. Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley

27 Jan 2015

Two people brought together by a horrific act work together to save humanity from an alien race. The action continues from Mosley’s SF novel Crosstown to Oblivion and tackles cosmic questions about the nature of good and evil.

http://www.waltermosley.com/

Inside a Silver Box

7.  The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

April 2015

12-year-old Corrine La Mer is fearless. She’s not afraid of scorpions, boys or the mythical creatures, jumbies. But after encountering a jumbie in the forbidden forest one night, she discovers the beings are running rife on her island and if she doesn’t find a way to fight them everything she loves will be doomed.

http://traceybaptiste.wordpress.com/

The Jumbies

 8. Driving the King by Ravi Howard

Jan 2015

It’s 1945 when jazz legend Nat King Cole is attacked during a show in Alabama, and his childhood friend, Nat Weary, jumps up to defend him. His act of bravery leads to a 10-year jail sentence but when he is released from jail, Nat King Cole repays the debt by taking him on as his driver and bodyguard. It’s the chance for a fresh start in LA, far from the violence of the Jim Crow South, but it turns out discrimination and intolerance will follow a black man wherever he goes, even one as talented and successful as Nat King Cole. The story – a work of fiction that rings with truth – reveals a remarkable friendship, cemented in the harsh climate of pre-Civil Rights America.

http://www.ravihoward.com/

Driving the King9. X: A novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Jan 2015

What was Malcolm X like as a boy? When he was Malcolm Little did he hear the message from his parents when they told him he could achieve anything? Or was he deflated by the teachers who warned him he could “be as good as you want in the classroom but out those doors, you’re just a nigger”? How did he handle the murder of his father and the removal of his mother by the authorities?

Malcolm X’s daughter has co-written a riveting, first-person narrative of young Malcolm. It takes readers into his head, imagines his mindscape, and follows him from childhood to the imprisonment at 20 that changed the course of his life. It’s a revealing portrait of a man in the years that formed the legend.

http://www.ilyasahshabazz.com/

X A Novel

10. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This award-winning memoir is already out and included in this list as an honourary mention. The book is written in verse and is the story of Woodson’s childhood growing up in Brooklyn and South Carolina in the 1960s and 70s. It really is as wonderful as it looks.

http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com/

Brown Girl