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Celebrating Black History Month: 6 New Books by Black Authors

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

22 October, Viking

In the year 1990, Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, began a journey that lasted almost three decades to find and interview anyone who had known Malcolm X personally. Talking to everyone from siblings and friends, to cellmates and cops, Payne transforms hundreds of hours’ worth of interview footage into a breathtaking insight into the never-before-seen world of Malcolm X. This fascinating book is introduced by Payne’s daughter and primary researcher, Tamara Payne, who completed the book following her father’s death. The Dead Are Arising is incredibly moving, powerful and fundamentally important, drawing an unforgettable portrait of the life of one of the most fascinating figures in American history.

- Hollie

Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods by Otegha Uwagba

12 November, 4th Estate

In this honest and incisive essay, bestselling author and founder of Women Who Otegha Uwagba reflects on racism, so-called allyship and the immense burden of whiteness and white guilt. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests which gripped America and the world, Uwagba rises above the explosion of uncritical internet ‘discourse’ on systemic and everyday racism, detailing what it’s really like to experience racial gaslighting and performative activism within a movement that purports to be anti-racist.

- Bayley

Confessions in B-Flat by Donna Hill

24 November, Sideways Books

Set in 1960s Harlem and at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, newcomer Jason Tanner arrives in New York to help encourage the idea of passive resistance and the teachings of his mentor, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Despite his political leanings, he finds himself drawn to Anita Hopkins, a firm believer in Malcolm X’s idea that the way to equality is “by any means necessary”. With such different and deep-rooted beliefs, will they be able to overcome their differences in the name of love? From bestselling author Donna Hill, this is a story of love, class, race and justice which illustrates how little progress society has made towards equality.

- Laura

Girl: Essays on Black Womanhood by Kenya Hunt

26 November, HQ

A powerful collection of essays focused on womanhood and belonging, highlighting the particular challenges that many Black women face in their personal, professional, political and public journeys as they navigate life in today’s world. Documenting their perseverance and eventual success, this book’s exploration of Black womanhood is meaningful, impactful and emphasises the need for hope in the current cultural moment. Truthful but ultimately celebratory, this rich collection of essays, which details award-winning journalist Kenya’s own experiences, as well as those of Candice Carty-Williams, Jessica Horn, Ebele Okobi, Femmi Fetto and Freddie Harrel, is essential reading.

- Genevieve

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds

19 November, Faber & Faber

This beautiful, lyrical novel in verse has been transformed into a graphic novel featuring illustrations by Danica Novgorodoff. Long Way Down is a heart-wrenching and gripping examination of violence, revenge and grief. Will lives by the mantra “Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge.” And this echoes in his mind after a gang shoots his brother. Carrying a gun, Will enters a lift that will lead him to vengeance, but, as he travels downwards, he encounters people from his past – all victims of gun violence. Their presence forces Will to confront the rules he has lived by, and the choice he must make when the lift doors open.

- Meg

Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

1 December, Penguin

What does it mean to be Black and alive today?

“This book is not an answer, but a series of prompts and questions, including what it would mean for everyone to create their own ‘Black Futures’ project. We know that one book can’t capture everything about Black life, but we also know that too much has already been lost.”

In this fantastic archive put together by Kimberly Drew (American art curator and writer) and Jenna Wortham (Culture writer for The New York Times Magazine), readers are immersed in various aspects of Black identity. This curated collection holds recipes, poems, photographs, essays, memes, questions and so much more. Together, the anthology aims to shed light on what it means to be Black and alive right now. Black Futures embodies the spirit that comes with positive change considering the contributions that reflect on the past and the present.

- Zoë


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