If you’ve yet to move your arse in support of Black Lives Matter, first of all, why the hell not? Please use your voices and platforms to sign and share petitions, share a Tweet, talk to your family, give money, educate yourself by reading books, articles, podcasts, protest if you’re able to. We should be doing this all year round: let’s keep this passion and fire going!
One way we can do this is to support Black books and authors. There are so many brilliant books and I want to see everyone reading and supporting their voices. As it’s Pride too, here are a few of my favourites (or most anticipated) books by Black, queer authors if you’re looking for authors to support. I’ve also added a few of my favourite non-queer books at the end of this post as well, we need to be supporting all Black authors and there’s some really brilliant books that aren’t getting the love they deserve.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson
If you haven’t already been won over by that stunning cover, this is a “memoir manifesto” essay collection from activist George M. Johnson about his childhood and college years, covering topics from gender to toxic masculinity to family and consent.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
If you missed my review of this book yesterday, you missed me pretty much screaming in awe at this book because it is STUNNING. What if cities have souls? And they can come alive? Well New York can, and there’s a soul for each borough. This book is so creative, so unique, and expertly entwines New York fantasy with an examination of the societal structures upholding white supremacy.
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
Kacen Callender is an absolute genius, they can write so well in so many different genres (shout out to Felix Ever After in particular which is on my TBR for this month!) King and the Dragonflies is a middle grade magical realism novel about a boy who’s brother died, and now his best friend, Sandy, is missing. But when Kingston finds his best friend hiding in a tent at the bottom of his garden, the two boys begin an adventure to help Sandy escape his abusive family.
The Wicker King by K.Ancrum
K. Ancrum is one of my auto-buy authors, and whilst she only has two books published so far, the books she has in the pipeline sound amazing! The Wicker King is her debut, about a teen with degenerative hallucinatory disorder with visions that take the form of a fantasy world, and his best friend who will do anything to help him.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a beautiful and poetic f/f contemporary novel, about Trinidadian Audre, who is sent to America when her mother catches her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter; and Mabel, who takes Audre under her wing and helps her navigate a US high school.
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
This book is on my TBR for this month, and I can’t wait to read it – it’s on so many ‘most anticipated books of the year’ lists. Real Life is a literary fiction novel about Wallace, a queer, Black, Southern biochemistry student and his experiences studying at a very white Midwestern university.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi is such a diversely talented author, bringing us both adult literary fiction as in The Death of Vivek Oji, alongside middle grade fantasy (which you can read a bit more about later in this list!) The Death of Vivek Oji releases in August, and it’s one of my most anticipated books of the year. It promises a book about family and friendship and how the loss of Vivek affected them, in Emezi’s usual powerful prose.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Full Disclosure is a fun and sex-positive YA contemporary, following Simone, a Black teen with HIV as she moves to a new school after being bullied at her old one over her HIV status. But at her new school, when she grows close to Miles, she starts receiving threats that if she doesn’t stop hanging out with Miles, her HIV status will be revealed. This book has one of the funniest scenes in YA and tons of musical theatre references! Which makes this book rock even more.
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Another of my most anticipated books of the year, Cinderella is Dead releases on July 7! Set 200 years after Cinderella, every year there is a ball where girls are paraded around so men can choose a wife. The girls dissappear if they aren’t chosen. So Sophia decides to run away, and hides in Cinderella’s masoleum where she meets a descendant of Cinderella herself, and the two fight to take down the kingdom.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
The Black Flamingo is an absolutely gorgeous YA coming-of-age story in verse. It follows Michael, a biracical, gay teen, from his childhood to his time at university as he finds himself through drag, and his journey to come to term with his identity.
The Sounds of Stars by Alechia Dow
The Sounds of Stars is a YA science fiction novel about an alien invasion. Aliens, called the Illori, invaded Earth to save the planet from human destruction, killing one third of the population in the process. Now, music, books and other forms of human expression are banned. When Ellie is caught with her secret library by an Illori called Morris, the two must team up to save Earth.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
This brilliant book just realised yesterday so help out this debut in its first week by buying a copy! You Should See Me In A Crown is about Liz, a Black, poor teen who wants to escape Campbell, Indiana. When her financial aid falls through, she joins in the race for prom queen in order to win a scholarship but then finds herself falling in love with the competition.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi is the only author with two books on this list, and that’s because they are both brilliant but also these books are so different I wanted to feature them both. Pet is a middle grade fantasy, set in a town that doesn’t have monsters anymore, at least that’s what Jam’s always been taught. But then one of her mother’s paintings come to live, with a creature called Pet walking out of it. He says monsters still exist and he’s here to hunt them down. But he also says the monster is at her best friend Redemption’s house, and Jam must reconsider everything she’s been taught, including if she can even trust the adults anymore. This book is just spectacular, so relevant and full of prose that gave me chills the whole way through.
By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
This is another of my favourite covers because the yellow is amazing. Also this is about a bee farm which is so cool! By Any Means Necessary follows Torrey, who on the day he becomes a college freshman, gets a call that might need him to drop out before he’s even started: the bee farm left to him by his uncle has been foreclosed on. He is torn in two between getting his degree and leaving the neighbourhood, with fighting to stop his uncle’s legacy from being destroyed.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo is known for her lyrical and poetic prose and verse novels. I’ve so far only read her second novel, With the Fire on High, but Clap When You Land just released last month and I’m sure it will be just as good! This book is a verse novel following two sisters who only find out about each other after the death of their father.
I also wanted to celebrate some of my favourite non-queer books by Black authors too. We should be celebrating all Black voices all year around, so here’s a few books I wanted to highlight which I think are amazing!!
And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando
This UKYA novel is one I’m very sad to see not getting more hype, it has less than 250 ratings on Goodreads which is an outrage because it is an incredibly beautiful, poignant and personal exploration of grief and suicide. And The Stars Were Burning Brightly follows Nathan as he tries to understand why his brother committed suicide.
Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
Another book with shockingly low adds on Goodreads, come on people! This is a book exploring and confronting toxic masculinity in teens, and follows Del as he tries to get his dream girl, who he’s had a crush on since kindergarten.
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
Black Girl Unlimited is unlike other books: part memoir, part magical realism, it follows Echo’s lifestory from her childhood to adulthood. It’s a confronting book, exploring Echo’s trauma and survival, and dealing with the intersections of racism and sexism.
Slay by Brittney Morris
This is a book for all the gamers out there! Slay follows 17-year old Keira who secretly developed a game to provide a safe space for Black gamers. But when a gamer is killed over a dispute in the game, Slay is suddenly all over the news, being described as an exclusionist, racist place for criminals, and someone threatens to sue Kiera over it. Kiera needs to find a way to both protect her game and her identity and fight off the online trolls.
Who Put This Song On by Morgan Parker
Parker describes this book as a fictionalised memoir about her teenage years. Morgan is in therapy, and she knows why: she’s often being the only Black girl in a room, she’s bullied for her “weird” clothing, and she’s been crying all summer. This is a book about Morgan exploring what being Black means to her, full of honest and authentic discussions of depression and anxiety.
If you’ve reached the end of this post, you have to buy a book by a Black author. Go do it now! It’s so exciting to see so many of these books sold out at book retailers here in Australia! Let’s keep this up the whole year round.
And if you haven’t yet donated, maybe think about doing that as well? You can find lots of places to donate to, as well as other resources and information, at the following link: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/