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Books for Black History Month (and any other month)
In honour of Black History Month, we’ve put together six reading recommendations from Black authors who share essential stories of struggle, healing and resilience in the face of racism and social injustice.
The Talking Drum by Lisa Braxton (Inanna Publications)When Bellport, a small, dying factory town in Massaschusetts is marked for a redevelopment project, the lives of the people living in the heart of its Black community are thrown into upheaval. From the perspective of a wife who leaves her law studies behind to support her husband’s dream of opening a business, to the new immigrant who works at setting down new roots within the town as a musician while trying to save his marriage—the impacts of gentrification prove different and difficult for everyone. As the demolition date moves closer, political tensions arise and the fate of so many relationships between people, families and friendships within the community are put in jeopardy.
Dominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough (Véhicule Press)Time and place have no boundaries in Kaie Kellough’s Dominoes at the Crossroads. Throughout this collection, there is a fluidity that allows its varied characters to populate both ancestral past and present, where they inhabit an alternate nation populated by Carribean Canadians. From the cobblestones of Montréal to the basements of wartime Paris—the stories of the past are made present and the present itself is vibrantly re-imagined as future.
Maame by Elizabeth Allua Vaah (Mawenzi House)Posing the question: “what makes a good mother?”, this collection shares the interconnected stories of a community of women living in Ghana through three generations, starting with girls, as they learn to navigate codes of conduct during the short gap of time preceding adulthood. Maame also gives us the empowering story of Ahu, a mother of two children who is left widowed at age eighteen as she pushes herself past the borders of tradition that consume so many other women to create new possibilities beyond the strict confines of belief and custom for future generations of girls.
Finish this Sentence by Leslie Roach (Mawenzi House)This list wouldn’t be complete without a bit of poetry, and Leslie Roach takes us there with this personal collection on living with racism and learning to heal from it. Throughout these revelatory poems, the emotional impact of racism gives way to the ultimate realization that one is not beholden to its negativity and that those who face racism hold an inherent power to stop it in its tracks. In this truth, Roach finds her healing, and hopes others will as well.
Controlled Damage by Andrea Scott (J. Gordon Shillingford)Switch up your reading with this play from Andrea Scott who takes us back in time to meet real-life hero Viola Desmond. This theatrical telling recounts the story of how Desmond’s single act of bravery in a Nova Scotia theater in 1942 would bolster the fight for Black civil rights and social justice in Canada.
Dear Black Girlsby Shanice Nicole, illustrated by Kezna Dalz (Metonymy Press)This beautiful book, illustrated by Kezna Dalz, serves as a message for Black girls around the world: that to be Black is a gift and that her differences are what make her special and deserving of love just the way she is. This book will be available on February 8th. Pre-order now from All Lit Up!
* * *Need more Black History Month reading recommendations? Check out our lists from previous years below:3 Picks for Black History MonthA Black History Month (Black Future) Reading List (2019)8 Reads in Celebration of Black History MonthBooks by Black Authors