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Black Voices

A selection of fiction and nonfiction books written by Black authors.

This list is far from exhaustive and we are always open to including new titles. If you have recommendations for books by Black authors to add, please contact us.

Many of the titles present here are about race and racism, however this list is intended to showcase Black voices across a whole range of subjects and genres. For more books about race and racism specifically, please see our Antiracist Reading list.

Also note that demand for these titles is exceptionally high right now, so our stock levels are constantly changing. For any book currently not in stock, we will fulfill your order as soon as possible, usually within one to two weeks.


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A Map to the Door of No Return

- by Dionne Brand

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A Map to the Door of No Return is a timely book that explores the relevance and nature of identity and belonging in a culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. It is an insightful, sensitive and poetic book of discovery.

Drawing on cartography, travels, narratives of childhood in the Caribbean, journeys across the Canadian landscape, African ancestry, histories, politics, philosophies and literature, Dionne Brand sketches the shifting borders of home and nation, the connection to place in Canada and the world beyond.

The title, A Map to the Door of No Return, refers to both a place in imagination and a point in history -- the Middle Passage. The quest for identity and place has profound meaning and resonance in an age of heterogenous identities.

In this exquisitely written and thought-provoking new work, Dionne Brand creates a map of her own art.

How to Be an Antiracist

- by Ibram X. Kendi

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a "groundbreaking" (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society--and in ourselves.

"The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind."--The New York Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review Time o NPR o The Washington Post Shelf Awareness o Library Journal o Publishers Weekly o Kirkus Reviews

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism--and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas--from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities--that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

Praise for How to Be an Antiracist

"Ibram X. Kendi's new book, How to Be an Antiracist, couldn't come at a better time. . . . Kendi has gifted us with a book that is not only an essential instruction manual but also a memoir of the author's own path from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism. . . .  How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, 'the basic struggle we're all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.' "--NPR

"Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. How to Be an Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is--and what we should do about it."--Time

The Hate U Give

- by Angie Thomas

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Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best William C. Morris Award Winner National Book Award Longlist Printz Honor Book Coretta Scott King Honor Book #1 New York Times Bestseller "Stunning." --John Green "This story is necessary. This story is important." --Kirkus (starred review) "Heartbreakingly topical." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Frying Plantain

- by Zalika Reid-benta

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Set in the neighbourhood of "Little Jamaica," Frying Plantain follows a girl from elementary school to high school graduation as she navigates the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation immigrants experiencing first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity in a predominantly white society.

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle -- of her North American identity and her desire to be a "true" Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother's rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too "faas" or too "quiet" or too "bold" or too "soft." In these twelve interconnected stories, we see Kara on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig's head in her great-aunt's freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother's house, trying to cope with ongoing battles of unyielding authority.

A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker.

Black Writers Matter

- by Whitney-ed. French

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Winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Publishing Award

"Black Writers? African, Bluesy, Classical, Disrespectful, Erudite, Fiery, Groovy, Haunting, Inspiring, Jazzy, Knowing, Liberating, Militant, Nervy, Optimistic, Pugnacious, Quixotic, Rambunctious, Seductive, Truculent, Urgent, Vivacious, Wicked, X-ray sharp, Yearning, Zesty. And so, they matter!" --George Elliott Clarke An anthology of African-Canadian writing, Black Writers Matter offers a cross-section of established writers and newcomers to the literary world who tackle contemporary and pressing issues with beautiful, sometimes raw, prose. As editor Whitney French says in her introduction, Black Writers Matter "injects new meaning into the word diversity [and] harbours a sacredness and an everydayness that offers Black people dignity." An "invitation to read, share, and tell stories of Black narratives that are close to the bone," this collection feels particular to the Black Canadian experience. "Reading these stories gave me both joy and grief." --Afua Cooper "Collected in these pages are voices that need to be urgently heard, engaged and reckoned with. Black life, Black Canadian life, Black Canadian diasporic life in full colour and full of desire is on offer in Black Writers Matter." --Rinaldo Walcott, professor at University of Toronto and author of Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies "Black Writers Matter is an extraordinary achievement, a bold and loving gathering of Black writing in its sublimity; its stylistic and thematic complexity; its regional, cultural, generational, and experiential differences; its fiercely constellated energy. Whitney French and the talented contributors to this book offer us vital new writings within a two-hundred-year legacy of yearning and truth-telling. Please read this book." --David Chariandy, author of Soucouyant and Brother "This book is as pretty as a present...and just as beautiful on the inside. Marvellous and life-changing." --Donna Bailey Nurse, author of What's a Black Critic To Do? and editor of Revival: An Anthology of Black Canadian Writing

BlackLife

- by Rinaldo Walcott

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What does it mean in the era of Black Lives Matter to continue to ignore and deny the violence that is the foundation of the Canadian nation state? BlackLife discloses the ongoing destruction of Black people as enacted not simply by state structures, but beneath them in the foundational modernist ideology that underlies thinking around migration and movement, as Black erasure and death are unveiled as horrifically acceptable throughout western culture. With exactitude and celerity, Idil Abdillahi and Rinaldo Walcott pull from local history, literature, theory, music, and public policy around everything from arts funding, to crime and mental health--presenting a convincing call to challenge pervasive thought on dominant culture's conception of Black personhood. They argue that artists, theorists, activists, and scholars offer us the opportunity to rethink and expose flawed thought, providing us new avenues into potential new lives and a more livable reality of BlackLife.

Book Of Negroes

- by Lawrence Hill

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Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle--a string of slaves-- Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes." This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone--passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America--is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.

Between the World and Me

- by Ta-nehisi Coates

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Winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction "This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it." In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of "race," a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men--bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates's attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son--and readers--the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children's lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward. NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY "Powerful and passionate . . . profoundly moving . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Brilliant . . . [Coates] is firing on all cylinders, and it is something to behold: a mature writer entirely consumed by a momentous subject and working at the extreme of his considerable powers at the very moment national events most conform to his vision."--The Washington Post "I've been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates's journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory."--Toni Morrison "A brilliant thinker at the top of his powers, Coates has distilled four hundred years of history and his own anguish and wisdom into a prayer for his beloved son and an invocation to the conscience of his country. An instant classic and a gift to us all."--Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns "I know that this book is addressed to the author's son, and by obvious analogy to all boys and young men of color as they pass, inexorably, into harm's way. I hope that I will be forgiven, then, for feeling that Coates was speaking to me, too, one father to another, teaching me that real courage is the courage to be vulnerable."--Michael Chabon "A work of rare beauty . . . a love letter written in a moral emergency, one that Coates exposes with the precision of an autopsy."--Slate

Beloved

- by Toni Morrison

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Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding New York Times bestseller transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

The Beautiful Struggle

- by Ta-nehisi Coates

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An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence--and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack--and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.

Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father's steadfast efforts--assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present--to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father's generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.

Praise for The Beautiful Struggle

"I grew up in a Maryland that lay years, miles and worlds away from the one whose summers and sorrows Ta-Nehisi Coates evokes in this memoir with such tenderness and science; and the greatest proof of the power of this work is the way that, reading it, I felt that time, distance and barriers of race and class meant nothing. That in telling his story he was telling my own story, for me."--Michael Chabon, bestselling author of The Yiddish Policemen's Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

"Ta-Nehisi Coates is the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation."--Walter Mosley

Any Known Blood

- by Lawrence Hill

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Langston Cane V is 38, divorced and working as a government speechwriter, until he's fired for sabotaging the minister's speech. It seems the perfect time for Langston, the eldest son of a white mother and prominent black father, to embark on a quest to discover his family's past -- and his own sense of self. Any Known Blood follows five generations of an African-Canadian-American family in a compelling story that slips effortlessly from the slave trade of 19th-century Virginia to the modern, predominantly white suburbs of Oakville, Ontario -- once a final stop on the Underground Railroad. Elegant and sensuous, wry and witty, it is an engrossing tale about one man's attempt to find himself through unearthing and giving voice to those who came before him.

Americanah

- by Chimamanda Adichie

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A searing new novel, at once sweeping and intimate, by the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun: a story of love and race centred around a man and woman from Nigeria who seemed destined to be together--until the choices they are forced to make tear them apart. Ifemelu--beautiful, self-assured--left Nigeria 15 years ago, and now studies in Princeton as a Graduate Fellow. Obinze--handsome and kind-hearted--was Ifemelu's teenage love; he'd hoped to join her in America, but post 9/11 America wouldn't let him in. Years later, when they reunite in Nigeria, neither is the same person who left home. Obinze is the kind of successful "Big Man" he'd scorned in his youth, and Ifemelu has become an "Americanah"--a different version of her former self, one with a new accent and attitude. As they revisit their shared passion--for their homeland and for each other--they must face the largest challenges of their lives.

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