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.




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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Brown Girl


Summer Reading Black List

It’s summer. Unless you’re truly unlucky you have a few days of freedom coming up. While you’re lounging in the sunshine, sipping on that Mai Tai, you should read a book. Here are five fantastic suggestions:

Kabu Kabu by Nnedi OkoraforKabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

A young woman, desperate to catch her flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare accepts a lift from an illegal Nigerian taxi, a kabu kabu. Never mind that the taxi is far from its proper environs. She soon finds herself sharing the ride with a procession of unusual and unsettling characters.

Award winning-author Okorafor deftly combines everyday life with African folklore, juju fantasy and mystical realism to produce a remarkable collection of short stories.

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter MosleyAfter starring in hundreds of films, super porn-star Debbie Dare has been disillusioned for a long time and is starting to phone it in. Then, one day, not only does she unexpectedly pass out having the most intense orgasm of her life (and first in years) while filming a scene, she also returns home to discover that her husband and an underage girl are both dead in her bathtub after being electrocuted while filming an amateur sex tape. These events rock her world and sets into motion massive changes in her life.

Both fans of Mosley and newcomers to his work will be pleased.

'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma‘Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma

In a small village in 1940s Trinidad, 16-year-old Marcia is raising two boys on her seamstress wage. She is also guarding a family secret. Her life is soon upended by Farouk, a man so besotted with her he enlists a medicine-woman to guarantee his feelings are returned. What follows is a love story pounding with the sounds of Calypso, the scent of sea salt and spicy stews and the thrilling twists and turns of a relationship amplified by magic and threatened by global politics and family secrets.

Wife of the Gods by Kwei QuarteyWife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

“The forest was black and Darko was afraid to enter…”

So begins this lyrical Ghanaian mystery. DI Darko Dawson is ordered to investigate the murder of a young woman in Kentau, the town from which his mother disappeared many years before. Fighting an incompetent local policeman, superstition and a local priest to whom young women are given as trokosi or wives of the gods, Dawson sets about trying to solve both mysteries and prevent an innocent man from being hanged.

Heart of Gold: A Blessings Novel by Beverly JenkinsHeart of Gold: A Blessings Novel by Beverly Jenkins

The small Kansas town of Henry Adams was founded by freed slaves and rescued from bankruptcy by wealthy divorcee, Bernadine Brown. As part of her campaign to re-energize the town Bernadine offers a group of foster children permanent homes with town residents. Heart of Gold is the fifth novel in a joyful series that delivers heart-warming tales of family and friendship and prompts the reader to recognise how present these things are in all our lives.