In honor of Black History Month, TBF staff is delighted to share works by beloved Black authors.
We’d love our audience to express support to these awesome partner organizations dedicated to celebrating Black authors year-round.
Additionally, we invite you to revisit a fantastic conversation on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast from board member Dr. Peniel Joseph: How MLK & Malcolm X Influenced Each Other.
The Furrows, Namwali Serpell
“The Furrows by Namwali Serpell was the most haunting and memorable novel I read in 2023. It takes the topic of loss and inserts the reader into the mind of someone who is deeply reckoning with grief and turning her brother’s death over and over in her mind in unexpected and bewildering ways. Like the way the main character, Cee, spins on the loss of Wayne, the narrative itself spins and folds in on itself, collapsing time and reality into a surreal experience that replicates Cee’s own mental gymnastics.”
Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling, Elise Bryant
“Elise Bryant has become a go-to author for readers, like me, who love a well-executed romantic comedy. Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling is the story of two teens figuring out who they are and growing confident in themselves despite conflicting societal and familial expectations. A D&D dungeon master and the lead singer of a punk band, don’t seem like the perfect pair on paper, but isn’t that often the case in our favorite rom-coms? ”
The Sum of Us, Heather McGhee
“If a single book has the ability to fundamentally change the way Americans view systemic racism and its detrimental impact on American life, it’s this book. In this expertly researched book, Heather McGee breaks down the ways in which greed and racial inequity have poisoned essentially every aspect of American society and the resulting degradation that continues to impact nearly ALL Americans (excluding only the top 1%). From industry and the economy to education, healthcare and housing, McGee demonstrates how a “zero-sum” mentality has shaped policy and contorted America’s founding promise of “liberty and justice for all,” into “liberty and justice for few.” Truly a book that should be required reading for all Americans!”
Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin
“I love the way James Baldwin unapologetically delves into the complexities of love, identity, and societal expectations. This is one of the first books I read by James Baldwin and I found it to be poignant and masterfully crafted. I felt Balwin take me with his characters through the cobblestone streets of Paris. I could feel the characters grapple with desire and the societal norms that threatened to suffocate their truth.”
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
“To me, the difference between a good book and a great book lies within the characters, and Yaa Gyasi manages to give readers 14 unforgettable characters in her first novel, Homegoing. The story follows the descendants of two half-sisters in Ghana separated by slave trade – one married off to an Englishman to remain in Ghana, the other sold and enslaved in America – and the following 300 years the families haunting legacy unfolds. Just when you’ve gotten settled in with one character, you’re transported across the ocean a generation later with the next. Each of these stories could fill their own novels, but Gyasi only gives us snapshots, leaving the reader heartbroken and desperate to see a better future play out in the next generation.”
Beloved, Toni Morrison
“It’s no secret that Morrison is a mastermind of language. Beloved, one of her signature and most famous works, is a testament to her skilled pen. It’s not an easy read, but it remains worthwhile and readers of any level will have a good time getting to know the characters that Morrison has so meticulously created, even if she volleys your heart all the while. I also have a deep respect for Morrison as an individual. In documentaries and interviews, her love of language and prose is clear in the way she speaks about how an individual writer’s identity is of foremost importance. I keep her musings close when I write.”
Ghost Roast, Shawneé and Shawnelle Gibbs
“When fifteen-year-old Chelsea is grounded after a night out with her friends, her parents inform her that she will spend the summer working at her dad’s Paranormal Removal Services business. Chelsea soon realizes that she can see and communicate with ghosts — and the ghosts of one historical mansion’s past have stories to tell. Ghost Roast offers romance, humor, historical fiction, and fantasy, all within a graphic novel full of delightful illustrations.”
So to Speak, Terrance Hayes
“This poetry collection was an exhilarating and beautiful use of language that left me in awe of the power of poetry and words. This book was one the first poetry books I’ve read and it left my mind curious and reflective for weeks after I finished. I really loved the reading and causal reflections and the illustrations (all done by Terrence himself) were a beautiful compliment to his written work.”