나는t wasn’t until I started university in 2008 that I truly realised how little regard there was for Black authors. My creative writing lecturer was a Black poet, whose teaching material and reading lists were saturated with authors of colour, but each term, I noticed that the class was shrinking. [object Window], there was a discourse bubbling among my white peers; they deemed him too biased, and proclaimed that his reading list was too Black. He’d been suggesting interesting works such as Ishmael Reed’s Juice! and Clarence Major’s Painted Turtle: 여성 With Guitar, but students banged their fists on the table for more Plath, more Twain, more Orwell.
ㅏ 2017 report showed that of 400 authors named as writers of literature by 2,000 사람들, only 7% were from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. Sunny Singh, co-founder of the Jhalak prize, which recognises Black and Asian writers in Britain, said the list reflected “a deeply entrenched imaginative conservatism, where the need to hold on to a nostalgic past combines with a fear of confronting a complex present in all its variety”.
I was fortunate in that my mother worked as a stock manager for a small publishing house specialising in Caribbean, Black British and South Asian writing called Peepal Tree Press. Books by Courttia Newland, Jacqueline Bishop and Kwame Dawes were regular birthday gifts, but such authors have remained largely absent from discussions about great works of literature.
아직도, we owe a lot to literary greats such as Toni Morrison and Margaret Busby, whose presence helped to destabilise the homogeneity of the canon. During Morrison’s tenure as an editor at Random House, ...에서 1967 ...에 1983, the company published 26 books by Black authors. These included Gayl Jones’s Corregidora and Angela Davis’s autobiography. But once she had left the company, only two books by Black authors were published between 1984 과 1990. Busby, Britain’s first Black female publisher, brought works by Guyanese author Roy Heath and Trinidadian historian CLR James into circulation. You’d think all of that labour might have caused a seismic shift in publishing, but as Busby mentioned 안에 2020 interview: “I can still go to literary parties where I’m the only Black person.”
최근 몇 년 동안, we have seen the republishing of out-of-print books such as Beryl Gilroy’s Black Teacher, a book I deeply enjoyed and believe is necessary reading more than 40 세계 최고의 감독 중 일부는 아이디어로 경력을 시작했습니다.. Penguin Classics republished works by Asian American authors such as The Hanging on Union Square by HT Tsiang and East Goes West by Younghill Kang, while Bernardine Evaristo has chosen a series of neglected novels by Black British writers to be republished by Penguin.
But it isn’t only vintage works we should consider as we think about widening the canon. Some books published in the past decade are worth revisiting too. One such is Long Division by Kiese Laymon, ㅏ 2013 도피 리뷰 – 한 난민의 생명을 구하는 비밀에 대한 환상적이고 감동적인 이야기, revised and republished in 2021, about a boy who travels through time to stop the Ku Klux Klan from killing his grandfather. “Between 2001 과 2010, I was rejected by nearly every agent and publisher in NYC,” tweeted Laymon when the revised edition was published. “They imagined no readership for my work generally and specifically no readership for a meta-fictive book about the ways Black children in Mississippi creatively grieve across generations. They were wrong.” Another overlooked novel, also from 2013, ~이다 Seduce by the Sheffield-based writer Desiree Reynolds. Set at a funeral on the fictional Church Island in the Caribbean and written primarily in patois, it’s a hurricane of a book that pulsates with love, sex, shame, class and religion.
The books on this list, recommended by some of the greatest voices in literature today, are a heartfelt collection of works that ought to be historised. From Heart of the Race, a socio-historical study of the lives of Black British women by Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe, ...에 A Visitation of Spirits, a novel about a gay Black teenager struggling with religion by Randall Kenan, these books deserve to be considered, critiqued, dramatised, reimagined and conserved like other classic texts.
Chosen by Hari Kunzru
“This is a beautifully woven set of short stories, each of which are inspired by a beloved pop song: everything from Johnny Cash to Nirvana to Nina Simone. It’s a compelling format with little margin for error and which, if executed correctly, works to magnificent effect. 고맙게도, Garricks is a supreme storyteller, and he manages to take us on an absorbing tour of joy and loss. Each of his tales is to be savoured; each concept has the depth of a novel. To use his own theme of music, the individual pieces are as accomplished in their own right and yet as intimately connected as the tracks of an elite jazz album: 말하다, Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda, or Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered. Garricks’s collection, like the tunes that inspired it, is a musical and magical delight.”
Hari Kunzru’s most recent novel is Red Pill
(Allison & Busby, 1979)
Chosen by 베르나 딘 에바리스 토
“Buchi Emecheta (1944-2017) arrived in Britain in 1962 from Nigeria and spent the rest of her life in London. The author of 20 서적, primarily novels, as well as television plays, she was a literary trailblazer who has never been properly recognised in Britain, although her reputation in Africa and America was sealed a long time ago. Whenever I mention her name to most people in the UK, they’ve never heard of her and have certainly not read her books, which is testament to how much she has been undervalued.
“It wasn’t always like this. Emecheta, who raised five children alone after she left her violent husband in the 60s, first published a series of columns about Black British life in the New Statesman, which later formed the basis of her first novel, In the Ditch (1972). 으로 1983 she had made the starry list of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, the only Black person to do so, although she was subsequently overlooked by the literary establishment. Her writing focused on African women’s lives, past and present, mainly based in Nigeria, and her finest work is The Joys of Motherhood (1979), which I see as the female counterpart to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958). The latter has long been celebrated as a groundbreaking novel of Nigerian literature that charts the encounter between pre-colonial Igbo culture and European imperial missions.
“Yet The Joys of Motherhood is equally groundbreaking and brilliant in its depiction of the life of an Igbo woman, through which Emecheta shows the differences and conflicts between pre-colonial and colonial culture. We discover that Igbo women are not allowed to choose their own husbands, who take ownership of them from their fathers upon marriage, and that their role is defined by their ability to produce and raise sons.
“This book is a great introduction to Emecheta’s wonderful writing and her name deserves to be embedded in our literary history.”
Bernardine Evaristo’s most recent book is Girl, 여성, Other
(Grove Press, 1989)
Chosen by Tarell Alvin McCraney
“Spring 2007: I was set to meet one of my heroes for coffee. The adage advises never to do this – I did it anyway. Almost a decade earlier, I had read a novel that changed my life: A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan, the story of a young Black boy growing up in the American south, who would rather become a bird (말 그대로, and tries to) than come out as gay or queer. Kenan gave me pride in who I was, and what I am: a queer Black man wishing, 아직도, to fly. When I met him in 2007, it felt like I knew him from before. He told me to continue to write, and encouraged me to dig deeper. Through this novel he advises us all to be curious with a ‘capital C’; tell the story that sparks more questions than answers. He passed away in August of 2020.”
Tarell Alvin McCraney is the author of the play In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue
(Myriad Editions, 2018)
Chosen by Margaret Busby
“The best creative artists are never content to stay obediently contained within anticipated bounds (as I know well from compiling New Daughters of Africa). So it is with Lorna Goodison, first female poet laureate of Jamaica, winner of the 2019 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry – and have you seen her beautiful artwork, gracing the cover of her new collection, Mother Muse? No better time than now to savour her evocative prose, captured in Redemption Ground – an ever-rewarding book in which personal intimacies connect effortlessly with global concerns, it is also crafted with a generosity that inevitably leads the reader on to other writers and stories. Redemption Ground resonates with compassion, humour and thoughtfulness, as Goodison shares unforgettable formative moments in her life and career, inviting us to accompany her on an ongoing journey of self-discovery.”
Margaret Busby is the editor of New Daughters of Africa
(Every Generation Media, 2006)
Chosen by Akala
“My teacher Robin Walker is a monumental scholar. One of the great historians alive in Britain today, he focuses on African ancient and medieval civilisations and wider Black achievements in art, mathematics, architecture, science etc. He has self published introductory books for children, a photographic history of ‘precolonial’ Africa, a brilliant imaginative reconstruction of everyday life in early medieval west Africa (based on the evidence) and in particular When We Ruled, arguably the best single volume overview of African history written in a generation. Solidly evidence-led and free from romanticism, cliche or value judgment, his body of work offers a brilliant resource for students, teachers or anyone interested in what Dr John Henrik Clarke calls ‘the lost pages of human history’.”
Akala is the author of Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
Chosen by Johny Pitts
“I discovered Night Haunts around the same time as Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things; both works leaking from between the cracks of Blair’s Britain, to reveal hidden lives of immigrants propping up a postcolonial metropole. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sandhu was inspired by Frears’s film; 안에 2002 review he described Dirty Pretty Things as ‘a wake-up call to young writers and directors who for too long have averted their gazes from life in Britain’.
“Like Frears, Sandhu turns his gaze on a side of London many of us blithely pass through regularly; a dirty city with dirty secrets, after dark. The chapters are dedicated to the people who maintain the capital and keep its secrets, as security guards, minicab drivers and street sweepers, 특히; those carrying out essential but invisible work. Like all of Sandhu’s writing, Night Haunts is layered and lyrical (with poetic photographic interludes) and is an essential though underappreciated contribution to the 2000s psychogeography revival.”
Johny Pitts is the author of Afropean: Notes from Black Europe
Chosen by Yomi Adegoke
“When Elizabeth Uviebinené and I were writing our debut book, Slay in Your Lane, it was incredibly important to us to highlight the numerous Black British women who paved the way for the conversations we are having now. As diversity is finally riding high on the publishing agenda, it can be easily forgotten that we are building on a largely underrated and erased canon of work by Black British female writers. A pioneering work that serves as a bedrock for our book as well as the discourse around intersectional feminism in the UK is Heart of the Race by academics and activists Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe. Still relevant today, the study documents the day-to-day lives and experiences of Black women in education, work and healthcare as well as personally and politically. The book was awarded the Martin Luther King Memorial prize in the year of its publication, 1985, and is wholly deserving of its flowers 36 years later.”
Yomi Adegoke is co-author of Slay in Your Lane
(4th Estate, 2017)
Chosen by Oyinkan Braithwaite
“A doctor is visited after hours by a family who have been violently attacked; the issue is, they have already died from their wounds. 그럼에도 불구하고, they want him to attend to them so they can be resurrected. The premise is delightful, all Paralkar had to do was stick the landing; and boy did he stick the landing.
“Night Theatre is part fable, part ghost story, part philosophical reflection on the mystery of life and death. Paralkar’s gem of a first sentence – ‘The day the dead visited the surgeon, the air in his clinic was laced with formaldehyde’ – tells us all we need to know about the tone of the novel: it is morbid, and yet, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all.
“I found Night Theatre refreshing, seductive and magical. If this book wasn’t already on your radar, it needs to be. I happened upon it by accident and it was like discovering a secret garden.”
Oyinkan Braithwaite is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer
(Camden Press, 1988)
Chosen by Diana Evans
“This collection of essays is one of the most exciting, galvanising and passionate books I have ever read. Published in 1988, it’s the first major cross-disciplinary anthology of Black artists in Britain, including musicians, film-makers, painters, dancers and writers such as Ben Okri, writing on Shakespeare, and interviews with Jacob Ross, Joan Riley and Ntozake Shange. I read it while I was a student and it was an encounter bristling with so much creative and political energy, connecting the artistic mind across many different themes and spaces, it helped me see how crucial the arts are to our lives and to social change, how they empower us and make us feel connected to the world and each other. It’s among my most cherished books, and I’ll always go back to it.”
Diana Evans’s latest novel is Ordinary People
(Random House, 1974)
Chosen by Musa Okwonga
“Late one night in May 1968, a New York City police officer shot a man dead on a Harlem subway platform. The officer claimed the victim had threatened him with a knife, but there were no witnesses. ~에 33 살이에요, Henry Dumas was one of the rising stars of the Black Arts Movement, a writer who combined sensuous realism with visionary flights and supernatural horror. In the months before his death he’d been collaborating with the musician Sun Ra. His work was scattered in small magazines, but in 1974 a posthumous collection appeared. The title story describes a monstrous boat witnessed by two children, an emanation from the dark collective memory of slavery. Other stories describe southern childhood and adulthood in urban New York. Until this year, copies of Ark of Bones were expensive and hard to find, but the collection has just been reissued, and now readers may finally discover the work of a man whose work was described by Toni Morrison as being of ‘a quality and quantity … almost never achieved in several lifetimes’.”
Musa Okwonga is the author of One of Them: An Eton College Memoir
(Random House, 1975)
Chosen by Caleb Azumah Nelson
“As with many of the books I hold dear, I came across Corregidora by Gayl Jones by chance, tucked away on the wrong shelf in a bookshop. Headed by a quote from Toni Morrison (‘No novel about any Black woman could ever be the same after this’), it does not disappoint. The narrative centres around Ursa, a blues singer who is haunted not just by the violence of the present but of the past, 너무. Her family name, Corregidora, comes from the slave master who fathered both her mother and grandmother. While often harrowing, it’s a wonderful novel about how we might create a new future for ourselves, in the present, with consistent action and care. It also features some of the best writing on music, not just in rhythm or description, but leaving enough room for the reader to imagine what hearing those notes or chords might have felt like.”
Caleb Azumah Nelson is the author of Open Water
Chosen by Yiyun Li
“Chiang Yee (1903-1977), was born and raised in China. Between 1933 과 1955, he lived in the UK and published travel books under the series title The Silent Traveller, written from the perspective of an outside observer of British life, illustrated with Chinese brush paintings and ink sketches. The series started with The Silent Traveller in Lakeland (the Lake District), followed by London, the Yorkshire Dales, Oxford and Edinburgh. 에 1955 he moved to America, and continued the series in New York, 더블린, 파리, Boston, San Francisco and Japan. 에 2019, a blue plaque, honouring Chiang Yee, was unveiled at 28 Southmoor Road, Oxford, where he lived from 1940 ...에 1955.
“I have read two books from the series: the ones on the Lake District and New York, and will go on reading him. There is a wide-eyed curiosity in his travelogues. Humour is abundant, both in his prose and in his illustrations. A first glimpse may mark his work as childlike, but there is an undercurrent of restrained melancholy, starting with his Chinese penname, which in translation was The Silent Traveller. As a citizen of the world, he seemed at ease in all places, though those places, one imagines, were far from home. In his writing he expressed Chinese philosophies that a wise man should retain his childlike mind, and humankind should aspire to gain freedom from too many desires. His travel books, in a sense, are all works of longing for peace and harmony.”
Yiyun Li’s most recent novel is Must I Go
(Trans Celia Britton, Liverpool University Press, 2020)
Chosen by Guy Gunaratne
“A contemporary of Franz Fanon, Martiniquan writer Édouard Glissant comes to mind as someone who deserves to be read now more than ever. At once philosophical, political, aesthetic and ethical, Glissant’s writing offers a way to approach the world that allows for the utopian to coexist with practical political commitments. Anyone who enjoys the linguistic interrogations of Maggie Nelson, Donna Haraway, or the novels of Maryse Condé, will find Édouard Glissant worthwhile. His theories on identity in relation – as personhood subject to constant transformation – stand as a necessary alternative to cosmopolitanism or the more capital-fuelled, globalised context of today. A good place to start: Introduction to a Poetics of Diversity and Sam Coombes’s A Poetics of Resistance. His novel Mahagony (translated by Betsy Wing) was also recently reissued by the University of Nebraska Press.”
Guy Gunaratne is the author of In Our Mad and Furious City
(Vintage Books, 1934/1994)
Chosen by Anita Sethi
“I first discovered the writing of Langston Hughes as a teenager browsing the bookshelves in my home town library, Manchester Central Library. ‘Hold fast to dreams’ were the first words I read, such welcome advice when my dreams of becoming a writer seemed so out of reach. I got goosebumps reading the lines: ‘I’ve known rivers: / Ancient, dusky rivers. / My soul has grown deep like the rivers.’ I felt how nature could be written about in a visceral, soulful way, and such language came to haunt and flow through me as I walked by the local River Irwell for my own bookHughes’s humane writing, his clarion call for equality, inspired so many during the civil rights movement, showing that we are all a part of nature, that people of colour are not inferior objects but also have souls as deep as rivers.
“Writers of colour such as Hughes, 하나, were nowhere near the school syllabus, which was overwhelmingly monocultural. I hope for future generations that will change, and that budding writers of colour will believe that their story belongs in a book – and see their dreams become reality.”
Anita Sethi is author of I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britai엔
Chosen by Michael Donkor
“Bernard Kojo Laing’s Search Sweet Country is a thrillingly restive novel. It captures the kinetic character of Ghana’s capital, Accra. Set in the city in 1975, 18 years after independence, Laing’s narrative presents us with a motley ensemble of characters. They represent the complex social heterogeneity of a new nation trying to discover its sense of self. In an exuberantly freewheeling plot, we encounter, 특히, a gnomic farmer, a taciturn academic, questionable policemen, a visionary witch and an aspiring photographer, all of whom give insights into the potential and potency of Accra. Laing’s style possesses an admirably rebellious energy. English and Ghanaian dialects are interwoven. Descriptions of Accra’s streetlife are lyrical. Portrayals of the clunking apparatus of the state are bitingly satirical. The narration sometimes tilts towards the fantastical too, in its contemplations of Ghana’s spiritual traditions. The African novel is so rarely praised for its formal innovation but this daring and unboundaried work certainly needs to be considered on those terms.”
Michael Donkor is the author of Hold
(Eka Westland, 2020)
Chosen by Tahmima Anam
“A book that I feel deserves a wide and rapturous audience is Hellfire by Leesa Gazi. This incredible novel confirms Leesa Gazi as the most exciting and original voice in contemporary Bangladeshi literature. The entire story takes place over the course of one day, a day in which the main protagonist, 사랑스러운, is allowed to leave her house for the first time on the occasion of her 40th birthday. Lovely sets out on her adventure, while the rest of the household – Lovely’s sister, Beauty, her hapless father, and the immovable matriarch who controls every aspect of their lives, Rehana Khanam, wait for her at home. It’s a study in atmosphere, almost unbearably tense, with a gripping twist of an ending. This is Gazi’s debut novel, translated impeccably by Shabnam Nadiya, and it has haunted my dreams ever since I turned the first page.”
Tahmima Anam is the author of The Startup Wife
(Bungei Shunju, 2005)
Chosen by Bryan Washington
“This is one of my favourite novels; I read it in Allison Markin Powell’s English translation (published by Europa, 2017). Kawakami’s a genius – her 2013 책, Strange Weather in Tokyo, is one of the great love stories – but Thrift Shop is a book that’s so delightfully itself that it eludes comparison entirely. The story’s basically about a temporary shop worker and the folks she meets at her gig, but it touches on love, debt, what it means to want more, and what can happen when we find what we’re looking for. I reread the novel in quarantine, and it’s a rare week that I’m not thinking about its characters – where are they now, that kind of thing. The other day I was at Los Angeles airport for the first time in ages, and I saw the novel on sale there – Kawakami creates characters and worlds that really stick with you and it’s delightful to think that they follow us, too.”
Bryan Washington is the author of Memorial
(First performed at the Ward theatre, 킹스턴, Jamaica in 1937)
Chosen by Winsome Pinnock
“Una Marson (1905 ...에 1965) was a Jamaican-born playwright, poet, activist and broadcaster. Over the course of her career the pioneering writer racked up a number of firsts: she was the first Black woman to broadcast for the BBC during the second world war with her cultural radio programme Caribbean Voices and was the first Black woman of her generation to have a play produced in the West End. Her play London Calling gives an insight into the little known subject of life in the UK for a group of Caribbean students in the 1930s, a decade before the better-known era of postwar mass migration. Marson’s humour is often shrewd and dark, with the students dramatically turning the table on the stereotypes imposed on them to reveal the absurdities of prejudice. Beneath the conventional dramaturgy is a complex commentary on the cultural exclusion and erasure of Black talent, as well as a demonstration of the potential of theatre to resist such dehumanisation.”
Winsome Pinnock’s most recent play is Rockets and Blue Lights
Chosen by Jasbinder Bilan
“I’d love to shine a light on Nadine Wild-Palmer’s wonderful debut, The Tunnels Below. It was published in 2019 and when I first read it, this pacey adventure pulled me straight into the action. It is a glorious middle grade novel set in the imaginary world of the tube tunnels below London.
“The main character Cecilia is having a birthday and on this special day is given an incredible but somewhat mysterious glass marble with a chip in it. When it rolls into the underground tunnel Cecilia chases after it, and is whisked aboard a deserted tube train to a magical world.
“She meets Kuffi, a strikingly tall semi-human fox and learns of the cruel Corvus regime. She must do everything she can to help her newfound friends. 존 리처드슨의 피카소 생애 4권 리뷰 – 악마 또는 신 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland crossed with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Get a copy, you’ll love it!”
Jasbinder Bilan’s most recent book is Asha & the Spirit Bird
Chosen by Ben Okri
“There are poets who have a magical presence in the literature of their lands. Often this is due to a combination of the work and the life. The lives of such poets have the curious prestige of early death or some sort of immolation. This casts a spectral light on their work. Christopher Okigbo is one such poet. He became synonymous with the Biafran war because he was its most celebrated casualty. It is as hard to read his poetry outside the context of his death as it is to read Byron outside the context of his. Death charges Okigbo’s poetry retroactively. But he is more than the poet who died in war. He is also a poet of initiation, of glimpses, of cultural loss, a truncated nature poet. Given his starry presence in African literature, it is a source of wonder that he is not better known in the west. It may be because he has only the one legendary volume. There are no letters, stories, essays, 짧은 이야기. Just the purity of that single volume. In that sense he is a quintessential poet. He should be at least as well known as AE Housman and be spoken about as a war poet in the same way as a Wilfred Owen, that special breed of poet whose work is fused with early death and national significance.
“But Okigbo was a poet who disdained labels. He would be appalled to be written about as a writer of colour. For him there are only two kinds of writers: bad ones and good ones. Colour, tribe, nationality meant nothing to his aristocratic sense of the universality of poetry.
“When I discovered his poetry in my 20s I fell in love with the haunting quality of his voice. For years I quoted his lines to friends. I knew someone who could recite the whole of Labyrinths, his only volume, and not to be confused with the same title by Borges. Though I think Borges would have loved him. Here are some lines, chosen at random:
And these are not from the searing prophecies of war that made him an icon.”
Ben Okri’s most recent book is The Freedom Artist