In 2020 the Booker prize announced its most diverse shortlist ever, with four writers of colour among its six authors. When discussing the shortlist, Margaret Busby, who became the first Black woman publisher in Britain when she co-founded Allison and Busby in 1967, said “[t]he best novels often prepare our societies for valuable conversations, and not just about the inequities and dilemmas of the world – whether in connection with climate change, forgotten communities, old age, racism, or revolution when necessary – but also about how magnificent the interior life of the mind, imagination and spirit is, in spite of circumstance”.
In order to challenge racist orthodoxies, literature must not only be difficult; it must be joyful. We must see Black protagonists who are agents of their own destiny, who are complex and imperfect, who are not only concerned with race but who experience the full range of human experiences, as do the white protagonists who have dominated literature since time immemorial
With this in mind, our next reading list celebrates Black-centred fiction.
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
Native Son, Richard Wright
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams