UPDATED: 1:30 a.m. ET, Sept. 6, 2021
One of the major byproducts of the current racial reckoning happening around the country is the seemingly exponential number of Black authors being published, courtesy of traditional as well as niche publishing houses offering culturally tinged imprints that are deliberately marketed to Black and brown people.
With National Read A Book Day being observed on Monday, now is especially the time to go out and support those authors to reinforce to the book industry that Black authors matter.
Still, about 29 percent of Black people said they hadn’t read a book in the last year, according to the most recent statistics provided by Pew Research Center. That trend may be set to change due to a combination of the influx of Black-focused literature and various technological advances like ebooks.
With that said, here are five Black authors to know in honor of this year’s installment of National Read A Book Day.
Herb Boyd, “BLACK DETROIT, A People’s History of Self-Determination”
“In 29 chapters, spanning more than three centuries, Boyd offers an unusual retelling of Detroit’s past, with black voices on nearly every page,” The New York Times Book Review wrote on Wednesday. The book written by the acclaimed journalist captured the attention of Ta Nehesi Coates, who said Boyd’s latest book “turns an oft caricatured community into a world of actual, struggling human beings. This is not easy work. But Boyd, with his Detroit roots and lucid prose, performs the labor as though he were born to do so.”
Sadeqa Johnson, “And Then There Was Me: A Novel of Friendship, Secrets and Lies”
The novelist who was working on her fourth offering as of July used “And Then There Was Me: A Novel of Friendship, Secrets and Lies” to dive into bulimia and eating disorders in the Black community because “we don’t really talk about” them, she told NBCBLK.
While Wilson doesn’t have a new book, the author recently gained notoriety for infiltrating an online White supremacist group on his way to spending “eight months as a racist troll,” as The Washington Post put it. “Wilson never revealed his true identity. When it was all over, Wilson said, he came to appreciate the way in which the far-right media bubble disables its participants — offering an endless stream of scapegoats for their problems but no credible solutions.” We’ll keep watch for the obligatory book that documents his experience.
N.K. Jemisin, “The Stone Sky”
The New York Times best-selling author writes books in a genre not necessarily associated with Black people: Science fiction and fantasy. Jemisin is so good at it that she won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel last month. In doing so, she reportedly became the first Black author to claim that coveted prize.
Jennifer Teege, “My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past”
The German-born Teegem, who is both biracial and Jewish, detailed the surprise of her discovery that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, also known as a murderous Nazi nicknamed the “Butcher of Plaszow” whose story was told in part in “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spieberg’s Academy Award winning film released in 1993.