Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Last month was Black History Month, a great time to showcase some amazing black writers, artists and creators. We've put a list together and highlighted some of our favourites to share with you. All of these writers have inspiring stories and journeys both in their professional and personal lives. We feel these works will move and resonate with many of you.
If you feel you could be doing more to expose yourself to new writers and maybe shake up what's sitting on your bookshelf - keep reading below...
1. Rivers Solomon
An imaginative, powerhouse of fiction. Solomon is a speculative fiction writer with titles such as 'The Deep' and 'Blood is Another Word For Hunger'. Their work is ofter regarded as cunning, dark and unapologetic.
They write about love, family, self-identity and generational trauma using science fiction backdrops to discuss topics like slavery and segregation.
Their books can be quite dark so we advise potential readers to check reviews and trigger warnings before reading.
2. Samantha Irby
Author of 'Wow, No Thank You' and 'We Are Never Meeting In Real Life', Samantha Irby is an edgy, hilarious and raunchy comedian, writer and blogger.
She runs a blog, Bitc**s Gotta Eat where she writes posts about things she experiences in her personal life. She also co-hosted the show Guts and Glory with Keith Ecker until 2015.
Her work looks at what it's like to be a POC queer woman tackling every day of adulthood.
3. Dean Atta
Dean Atta tackles the touchy subjects of homophobia. A British poet of Greek Cypriot and Caribbean descent, Atta explores themes of gender, race and identity. The Black Flamingo (£7.99) is a bold coming of age story which follows a mixed-race gay teen as he begins to accept his identity.
He is known as the "iPhone poet" after his written poem, in reaction to the murder of Steven Lawrence, went viral online. In five days, his poem had received over 15,000 hits and gained him an extra 1,000 followers on Twitter.
4. Kalynn Bayron
A creative arts enthusiasts who builds captivating stories based on traditional fairytales but with a twist.
Growing up without a Black Disney Princess, Cinderella Is Dead (£7.99) is a love letter to her younger self. The book warps the conventional narrative by setting the book 200 years after the original and focusing around a gay love story.
Bayron also allows brilliant, black characters to take centre stage in her work.
5. Brandon Taylor
Brandon Taylor is one of our favourite recently discovered authors and won the Booker prize this year for his debut Novel book Real Life (£9.99). When speaking about his work you can sense his passion and heart in everything he writes. "I could have written this book to be more sympathetic to the white gaze..." Taylor says "...but it would’ve been a worse book."
Real Life (£9.99) deals with workplace bullying, abuse and racial prejudice, and how this impacts the lives and mental health of its victims. It's told through the lens of Taylor's own experience growing up in rural Alabama and the difficulties of finding purpose, meaning and happiness in the world he inhabits.
6. Paul Mendez
From a former Jehovah's Witness to a gay novelist, Paul Mendez has had an extraordinary life. In his novel Rainbow Milk (£14.99), Mendez tells of his journey to discover himself and find purpose and love in life.
The story follows the life of a fictional protagonist, Jesse, and his struggles after moving from home and the crushing loneliness in London.
Jesse finds himself discovering the joys of casual sex and that he can make a living from selling himself to middle-aged white men who he ends up lusting after. His writing is raw, honest and focuses on the patriarchal society specifically of white privilege.