It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States, a holiday that is all too quiet and under feted, in my opinion. My bookish heart beats with equal parts giddiness and gravity as I use this holiday to extend, at least for my reading list and my inner world, the criminally short Black History Month. In anticipation of the coming 6 weeks, I have gathered a mouth-watering, mind-blowing, heart-breaking selection of books written by black authors (almost exclusively women).
Some are volumes from the canon – well-respected and well-known works like “The Complete Stories” of Zora Neale Hurston, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, and “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde.
Then there are glorious works of fiction by black women whose narrative gifts abound – “Paradise” by Toni Morrison, “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler, “Gathering of Waters” by Bernice L. McFadden, and “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward.
There are the forthcoming memoirs – “This Will Be My Undoing” by Morgan Jerkins and “When They Call You a Terrorist” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele – and the collections of essays and analysis – “The Fire This Time” edited by Jesmyn Ward and “To Shape a New World” edited by Tommie Shelby.
Finally, there are forthcoming novels from relative newcomers, such as “When We Speak of Nothing” by Olumide Popoola, “Speak No Evil” by Uzodinma Iweala, and “The Parking Lot Attendant” by Nafkote Tamirat.
I am delighted and slightly daunted by what lies ahead. I hope that these works will continue to open my heart and my mind. I look forward to sharing my journey.