Black History Month 2018

Black History Month 2018

Celebrate the culture and contributions of African Americans through these recently published books.

Previous lists:

Black History Month 2017

Celebrate Black History Month

Compiled by:
Matt N
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell : Tales of a 6' 4", African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian

W. Kamau Bell
791.4392 Bell Bel

The host of CNN's Emmy-nominated United Shades of America, Bell uses his own life—e.g., his interracial marriage and early career struggles—to discuss major issues from race relations to right-wing politics. -Library Journal

Born a Crime : Stories From a South African Childhood

Trevor Noah
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When an author opens his memoir with a scene of his mother pushing him from a moving vehicle, you know you’re in for a fascinating read. But Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, the autobiography of The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, intrigued me even before I got to the first chapter. “For my mother. My first fan. Thank you for making me a man,” the comedian wrote on his dedication page. Just how had Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah molded her Soweto-born? -Los Angeles Review of Books

Dear Ijeawele, or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
305.42 Adi

It has fallen to Adichie to be a spokeswoman for more than fiction – and no doubt that readiness to speak out is in her temperament as well as in the pressure of politics in her worlds (she divides her time between Nigeria and the US). It seems to work for her. In the last lines of Dear Ijeawele she hopes that when the baby girl grows up she “will be full of opinions, and that her opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place”. -The Guardian

Don't Call Us Dead : Poems

Danez Smith
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In "a note on the body," slam poet Smith (insert boy, 2014) writes, "Everyday you wake you raise the dead / everything you do is a miracle." Smith accomplishes both in this searing exploration of systemic violence and what it means to be black and queer "on land who" doesn't always love "you back." The stunning opener, "summer, somewhere," envisions a lavender-laced afterlife for black boys killed by police...Incandescent, indispensable, and, yes, nothing short of a miracle. -Booklist

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas
Y Thomas

“The Hate U Give,” which takes its title from a phrase coined by the rapper Tupac Shakur, is one of a cluster of young-adult novels that confront police brutality, racial profiling and the Black Lives Matter movement. Several are debut novels from young African-American writers who have turned to fiction as a form of activism, hoping that their stories can help frame and illuminate the persistence of racial injustice for young readers. -New York Times

Hunger : A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxane Gay.
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With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be. -HarperCollins

Sing, Unburied, Sing : a Novel

Jesmyn Ward

A recent National Book Award in fiction for her second novel makes Jesmyn Ward the first woman to win the major honor twice. “I like to think I know what death is,” Ward begins in Sing, Unburied, Sing. “I like to think it’s something I could look at straight.” Here, Ward again mines the rich territory of her Southern upbringing to construct an epic Faulknerian tale. -The Root

Swing Time

Zadie Smith

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from north-west London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time. -Man Booker Prize Longlist

We Were Eight Years in Power : An American Tragedy

Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Here, Ta-Nehisi Coates, best known for the recent Between the World and Me and his ongoing column in The Atlantic, publishes his third book, a collection of essays titled We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. Here, compiled, are some of Coates’ most groundbreaking and provocative essays, including the seminal “Case for Reparations” and “My President Was Black.” -The Root

What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky

Lesley Nneka Arimah

Arimah's collection somehow manages to be both cohesive and varied at the same time. None of the stories resemble one another, exactly, but they manage to form a book united not only by theme and by setting (the stories mostly take place in Nigeria and the U.S.), but by Arimah's electrifying, defiantly original writing. It's a truly wonderful debut by a young author who seems certain to have a very bright literary future ahead of her. -NPR Books


What We Lose : A Novel

Zinzi Clemmons

What We Lose, is a startling, poignant debut, released to no shortage of fanfare (Vogue called it “the debut novel of the year”). It tells a story based loosely on the author’s own. The protagonist is Thandi, who, like Clemmons herself, is the daughter of a “coloured” South African mother and an African American father. Thandi, like Clemmons, was raised in a wealthy, mostly white suburb of Philadelphia. Thandi’s self-proclaimed status as a “strange in-betweener”—she has “light skin and foreign roots,” and feels neither fully black American nor fully African—is a defining preoccupation of her young adulthood. -The Atlantic