BIPOC Book Club: Our Anticipated Releases for 2022
By Shaniah Shields, Jia Wen Ho and Leanne Francis
In this issue, we share some of the books we are most excited to read in 2022. From coming-of-age stories to tales of revolution and resistance, this selection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry by BIPOC authors is vibrant, celebratory and magical. We can’t wait to dive in later this year.
Shaniah’s Anticipated Releases
And We Rise by Erica Martin
1 February, Viking Children’s Books
I want to read more poetry this year, and Erica Martin’s debut YA poetry collection sounds both powerful and poignant. It promises to provide a lyrically nuanced and educational insight into an important part of the 20th century – the Civil Rights Movement – and features historical photos throughout.
When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando
31 March, Simon & Schuster
I am super excited for this book, having read and loved Danielle Jawando’s debut novel And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, which was captivating and beautifully written. When Our Worlds Collided is a powerful coming-of-age story set in Manchester and it follows three teenagers who are unexpectedly brought together after a horrific event. I’m very eager for this release, especially as I’ve already seen great reviews of it!
Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tolá Okogwu
9 June, Simon & Schuster
I attended Storymix’s Before Bias: Changing the Face of Series Fiction event in November, where author Tolá Okogwu spoke about her debut children’s novel, Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun. As an advocate for organic representation, I was absolutely charmed by the premise of this book: a celebration of the authenticity and power of Afro hair. We follow Onyeka, a British-Nigerian girl who discovers her curls have psychokinetic abilities. This book sounds like so much fun and I can’t wait to be immersed in its world.
Jia’s Anticipated Releases
North to Paradise by Ousman Umar, translated by Kevin Gerry Dunn
1 March, Amazon Crossing
Though I seldom read memoirs, it’s a genre I want to step into. North to Paradise is about a boy's five-year journey from Ghana to Spain. Left stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert, Ousman emerged as one of five survivors from a group of sixty-five. But the journey doesn’t end there; he had to cross the Mediterranean Sea, where he lost his best friend. It is a story of extraordinary perseverance in the face of extreme difficulty and of the beauty of kindness.
Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
19 April, Salaam Reads imprint of Simon & Schuster
I came to know Hanna Alkaf by reading her debut, The Weight of Our Sky. Since then, I made sure to keep up with her books. Queen of the Tiles is her upcoming novel – a murder mystery which begins with the protagonist, Najwa Bakri, walking to her first Scrabble competition. This is the very same competition where her best friend, Trina Low, died. The game takes a sharp turn when Trina’s Instagram account starts publishing cryptic posts and messages, and Najwa begins to see the true colours of the people she once considered her friends. A Muslim protagonist in a Scrabble world – what's not to love?
Leanne’s Anticipated Releases
Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi
15 February, Knopf Books
Akwaeke Emezi, author of The New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji (2020), Freshwater (2018) and Pet (2019), has been on my TBR (to be read) list for a while now after seeing their name appear across social media and BookTok (their account is here, for those interested). I am looking forward to reading their new novel, Bitter, the story of a girl who has spent her childhood in foster care. After being selected to attend a school for creative teens, Bitter feels torn between staying in school and joining the protests in the city. Described as “a powerful and prescient tale of standing up for what is right,” Bitter explores the role of protest, power and art from a new perspective.
Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire
3 March, Vintage Publishing
I am incredibly excited to read Warsan Shire’s new poetry collection. I fell in love with her 2011 collection, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, after discovering her poetry through Beyoncé’s Lemonade album at university. Her new collection, “a blessing, an incantatory celebration of survival,” gives voice to marginalised women and depicts their lives in full colour. I can’t wait to see how her writing style has evolved with time and once again witness how masterfully she weaves untold stories into art.