Black female authors you should know about

Black female authors you should know about

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we have compiled a list of Black female authors and some of their books that we think you should take the time to read and enjoy. 

(22nd June 1947 – 24th February 2006) 

Octavia E Butler’s work is so relevant today as she warned in much of her writing where America and humanity were heading. Butler’s books foresaw some aspects of modern-day life, such as Trumpism and big Pharma. In the book ‘Parable of the Talents’ she wrote about a Texas senator that ran for president, with many views similar to Trump himself. She did much for the literature world, including striving to demolish the genre assumptions of writers and reshaping fantasy and sci-fi. In her novel ‘Bloodchild’ she was one of the first to challenge the gender binary, as she creates a world where the power dynamic between men and women is reversed. Her work is now read for perspectives on Afrofuturism, black feminism, queer theory, and disability studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(9th February 1944)

Alice Walker is a writer, poet, and activist. She is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction (1983) and the National Book Award. Some of her bestsellers are: The Temple of My Familiar, By The Light of My Father’s Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy. ‘Possessing the Secret of Joy’ explores the event of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on one woman’s psyche as well as her body. This novel led to the 1993 book and documentary film: Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, collab with British-Indian filmmaker Pratibha Parmar.

(29th May 1959) 

Bernardine Evaristo’s writing and projects are based on her interest in the African diaspora. Bernadine’s novel, ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ won the Booker Prize in 2019; she was the first Black woman and Black British woman to win it, it also gained many other prizes. She was the first woman of colour to be #1 Sunday Times bestseller for five weeks in the paperback fiction chart, spending 44 weeks in the Top 10. 

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives of 12 different individuals in Britain, predominantly female and black. Ranging between 19-93, they span cultural backgrounds, sexualities, classes, and occupations, as they tell the stories of themselves, their families, friends, and lovers, across the country and through the years. Appropriate for those aged 16+. 

 

(25th September 1989) 

Reni Eddo-Lodge is an award-winning journalist, author, and podcaster; she got involved in feminist activism around 19 years old. She then started a blog, becoming an outlet for her political views. Keeping one foot in feminist activism, she made her living through freelance journalism. She is now a full-time author. She published her debut non-fiction book, ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ in 2017. It is now a critically acclaimed book and became a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller. A 2018 public poll by Academic Book Week named ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ is the most influential book written by a woman. It is already incorporated into curriculums and studies, as I had to write an essay on the book in my first term in my second year at university. In Eddo-Lodges’s book, she speaks about her own experiences talking to white people about race and the responses and feelings held by white people surrounding the discussion. She explores the intersectionality of race and class, race and gender, and the emotional strain on people of colour.

(21st July 1989) 

Candice Carty-Williams is a writer and author of the Sunday Times bestselling Queenie. About a young Black woman lives in London, with an ordinary life filled with heartbreak, job loss, with many familiar problems. The book is about race and incorporates language and grammar to emphasize the discussion of race. Queenie was the winner of the British Book Awards Book of the Year & Debut Book of the Year 2020.

(18th February 1931 – 5th August 2019)

The American writer, Toni Morrison, was noted for her examination of the experience of Black people. Morrison was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Morrison and her family loved and appreciated Black culture, with storytelling and creative outlets having a significant influence on her childhood. She studied at Howard University and Cornell University, then taught at Texas Southern University and Howard University. After this, she became a fiction editor at Random House, an American Book Publisher, but then returned to teaching while writing many novels.

Morrison wrote many incredible books, including ‘The Bluest Eye’ and ‘Beloved’ both recognised for their own impactful stories and authenticity. 

   

‘The Bluest Eye,’ published in 1970, is Morrison’s first novel, set in the author’s hometown, Lorain, Ohio, tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola wishes for her eyes to turn blue to be desirable and as beautiful as the white, blue-eyed children in America. The book was not received well when published, but Morrison spoke out afterward, saying that this was parallel to how the world treated her main character. ‘Beloved’ published in 1987, is often considered Morrison’s masterpiece. An enslaved-African American woman Margaret Garner inspired it. The main character, Sethe, is haunted by her past decision to kill herself and her children rather than see them return to slavery. ‘Beloved’ reveals the lasting impacts of slavery, and Morrison uses moving narratives to illustrate this story. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was adapted as a film with the same name in 1998, starring Oprah Winfrey.

  • Maya Angelou 

(4th April 1928 – 28th May 2014)

In her time, Maya Angelou was a poet, memoirist, and actress, and she often explored the themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression. Angelou spent much of her childhood in the care of her grandmother after experiencing abuse at an early age. Her early life experiences led her to write her debut memoir, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ (1969); it is now a beloved American classic read worldwide. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Look Away (1973), and her literature and poems are taught in schools across the world. Angelou accompanied Malcolm X back to the US to assist him in building his Organisation of Afro-American Unity. She became the first African American woman to appear on a US quarter dollar coin this year.

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