Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics
- 30th August: School Freebie
- 6th September: Books I Loved So Much I Had to Get a Copy for My Personal Library
- 13th September: Books with Geographical Terms in the Title
- 20th September Bonus: Favourite Literary Queens
- 20th September: Books on my Fall TBR
- 27th September: Typographic Book Covers
- 4th October: Favourite Bookshops and Bookstores I’d love to visit
- 11th October: Books I Read on Vacation
- 18th October: Favourite Words
We are in the run up to Hallowe’en in the Book Lover’s household: Sleepy Hollow, Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas are on the TV; a giant spider is draped in the front room; pumpkin carving tools are lined up in the kitchen; and the little one’s trick-or-treat outfit is on order. Jana’s list of themes does offer this week as a freebie, albeit a Hallowe’en Freebie, but I am going to skip out of the Hallowe’en theme, having done
2021: Hallowe’wn pumpkins and gothic books.
2020: funky Hallowe’en themed book art and pumpkins, spooky reads.
2019: A list of gothic reads.
Rather than regurgitate the same images of pumpkins, or recommend the same books, I thought I’d turn my mind to Black History Month which comes to a close on 31st October and by way of celebrating that, focus this week’s list on black authors.
The grandaddy of the GCSE syllabus, greeted with warm applause and genuine affection.
Born in British Guiana, his poetry speaks to identity and celebrates and raises the value of his heritage, a heritage and history which is often overlooked in our western world.
Checking Out Me History (2004) Dem tell me Dem tell me Wha dem want to tell me Bandage up me eye with me own history Blind me to my own identity Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat But Touissant L’Ouverture no dem never tell me bout dat Toussaint a slave with vision lick back Napoleon battalion and first Black Republic born Toussaint de thorn to de French Toussaint de beacon of de Haitian Revolution Dem tell me bout de man who discover de balloon and de cow who jump over de moon Dem tell me bout de dish run away with de spoon but dem never tell me bout Nanny de maroon
Nanny see-far woman of mountain dream fire-woman struggle hopeful stream to freedom river Dem tell me bout Lord Nelson and Waterloo but dem never tell me bout Shaka de great Zulu Dem tell me bout Columbus and 1492 but what happen to de Caribs and de Arawaks too Dem tell me bout Florence Nightingale and she lamp and how Robin Hood used to camp Dem tell me bout ole King Cole was a merry ole soul but dem never tell me bout Mary Seacole From Jamaica she travel far to the Crimean War she volunteer to go and even when de British said no she still brave the Russian snow a healing star among the wounded a yellow sunrise to the dying Dem tell me Dem tell me wha dem want to tell me But now I checking out me own history I carving out me identity
Emezi is well… amazing!
Their voice and language and characters throughout their novels are astounding from the semi autobiographical Freshwater which was deeply embedded in their Ibo culture and mythology, to the astounding young adult Pet to the heartbreak that was The Death of Vivek Oji.
I have their most recent novel, You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty queued up to read when I feel I have the time to do it justice!
Emezi – born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria – is one of those writers who so often appears on list like the “5 to watch under 35” that they make us old folks feel rather inadequate
Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Bulawayo has the title of first black woman to appear on the Booker Prize List twice, and is another of the “5 under 35″s!
Her novel Glory was perhaps the standout novel for me in this year’s Booker Shortlist, an imaginative and courageous reimagining of the 2017 coup against Mugabe in the style of Orwell’s Animal Farm.
I wrote my university dissertaion on Soyinka back in 1995 and, looking back, I think the vast majority of this man’s incredible intellect went over my head! I recall dramas that explored the edges and boundaries and tensions between the traditional and the modern in Nigeria. The Road, Jero’s Metamorphoses, Death and the King’s Horsemen
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
I loved The First Woman, set over two generations in Uganda as modernity and traditional value come into conflict, and a modern nation is forged… I found that, whilst Kirabo was charming and the prism through which we saw them, the main characters who stole the show were her grandmother and Nsuuta – erstwhile friends, rivals and almost sisters.
Leilani’s Luster was one of those novels that has grown on me since reading it: Edie, struggling to survive in a New York that largely ignores her, and ending up in a somewhat strained living arrangement, living with the married white man she was dating along with his white wife and their black adopted daughter….
Her acerbic, witty, sharp observations on life – oh the critics loved to throw the term flaneur at the novel! – were poignant and barbed. And Leilani’s own background in the visual arts gave her depiction of Edie’s art a wonderful symbolic potency.
I loved the Easy Rawlins novels when I finally – and it did take a while and I still need to review them – came across them a couple of years ago. Devil in a Blue Dress introduced us to Easy Rawlins, and his distinctive speech and language, and the tensions within Los Angeles.
The setting and genre are familiar enough from Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler – the hard boiled detective – but giving that role to a black protagonist and alloweing him to inhabit it so fully really injects new life into an old genre.
I adored My Sister The Serial Killer when I read it – and, I mean, just the title is exquisite!
The family dynamics, the toxic effect of the domineering father, the bond between the sisters that allows one to accept the other’s violence and dangers… and the tension when the dangerous sister you love tangles with the man whom you also love. And all embedded in a modern, difficult Nigeria.
Namina Forna is an author whom I am regularly recommending at school: wonderful fantasy plots that are populated with vibrant and powerful black female protagonists. It is no surprise that The Gilded Ones is already in the process of a film adaptation.
Alongside Forna, Adeyemi is another regular recommendation at school: fantastically written fantasy novels in The Children of Blood and Bone and now The Children of Vice and Virtue.
Nigerian by heritage, albeit American by birth, Adeyemi’s parents chose not to expose her to her Nigerian heritage or culture and she chose to embrace it.
I loved her verse novels The Poet X and Clap When You Land – books which explicitly explore the struggles of finding your identity in terms of both race and gender and sexuality in the modern world.
Sometimes for me verse novels can feel gimmicky, but Acevedo manages to write in a way where the verse and the rhythms contribute as powerfully as the words.
There are so many many more black writers whom I love and whose works I want to champion, not because they are black authors but because they are fantastic authors and these are just a handful from a range of genres and audiences.
As always, have a fantastic TTT and enjoy whatever it is that you are currently reading!
Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes
November 1: Unlikable Characters You Can’t Help but Love (These are villains, criminals, jerks, etc. that make you fall in love with them anyway, perhaps because they evolve by the end or they’re secretly wonderful and have been all along.)
November 8: Series I’d Like to Start/Catch up on/Finish
November 15: Favorite “Aww” Moments In Books (Share those sweet/cute moments in books that give you warm fuzzies.)
November 22: Thankful Freebie
November 29: Cozy Reads (Share books that give off a cozy vibe, whether through atmosphere, setting, or some other factor. Please tell us why they’re cozy for you, too!)
December 6: Freebie
December 13: Books on My Winter 2022-2023 To-Read List
December 20: Books I Hope Santa Brings This Year
December 27: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection (What books did you get as presents this holiday season? Or what did you buy with gift cards?)