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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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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.

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.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

- by Alex Haley

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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

Becoming

- by Michelle Obama

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An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
 
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o WATCH THE EMMY-NOMINATED NETFLIX ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY o OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK o NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER o ONE OF ESSENCE'S 50 MOST IMPACTFUL BLACK BOOKS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America--the first African American to serve in that role--she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
 
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her--from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it--in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations--and whose story inspires us to do the same.

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.

"You can't go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. BelovedSong of Solomon, The Bluest EyeSula, everything else -- they're transcendent, all of them. You'll be glad you read them."--Barack Obama

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

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.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

- by Marlon James

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"A fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made." --Neil Gaiman

"Gripping, action-packed....The literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

In this epic, internationally bestselling novel from Marlon James, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, myth, fantasy and history merge in the stunning story of a mercenary's quest to find a missing child. 


Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Hired to find a mysterious boy who has disappeared, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group assembled to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as the Leopard. 

As Tracker follows the boy's scent, he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he fights for survival, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep the boy from being found? And perhaps most important of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a saga of breathtaking adventure that's also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, the excesses of ambition, and our need to understand them all.

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.

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

Born a Crime

- by Trevor Noah

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The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
 
Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
           
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother--his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
           
The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.

The Broken Earth Trilogy

- by N.k. Jemisin

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This collectable boxed set edition includes all three books in N. K. Jemisin's incredible NYT bestselling and three-time Hugo award-winning Broken Earth Trilogy.

This complete collection would be a great gift for any occasion and includes The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky.

This is the way the world ends for the last time. . .

A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The City We Became

- by N.k. Jemisin

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"A glorious fantasy."--Neil Gaiman
Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.
In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.
In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her.
In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.
And they're not the only ones.
Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six.For more from N. K. Jemisin, check out:
The Inheritance TrilogyThe Hundred Thousand KingdomsThe Broken KingdomsThe Kingdom of Gods
The Inheritance Trilogy (omnibus edition)Shades in Shadow: An Inheritance Triptych (e-only short fiction)The Awakened Kingdom (e-only novella)
Dreamblood DuologyThe Killing MoonThe Shadowed Sun
The Dreamblood Duology (omnibus)
The Broken EarthThe Fifth SeasonThe Obelisk GateThe Stone Sky
How Long 'til Black Future Month? (short story collection)

The Cooking Gene

- by Michael W. Twitty

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2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year | 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner inWriting | Nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction | #75 on The Root100 2018

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry--both black and white--through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.

From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors' survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia.

As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep--the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

Illustrations by Stephen Crotts

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