Black History Month Book Recommendations
As part of Black History Month, students and staff have been sharing their recommended reads with the EDI team. Thank you to everyone who submitted suggestions and reasons for their recommendations.
The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
This book is set in Nigeria and is about a 14 year old girl called Adunni who lives in a small town. Her dad has debts so illegally marries her off to a much older man to raise money to pay the rent. She has a difficult life and eventually arrives in the house of the "Big Madam" in Lagos as a servant. Adunni's goal is to be the girl with the louding voice, she wants to go to school get an education and become a teacher which was encouraged by her late mother. I enjoyed this book because the protagonist Adunni, epitomises resilience, perseverance and strength even when the odds are stacked against her.
Brenda Bell - Project Manager - Wolfson Institute, SMD
The Lonely Londoner by Sam Selvon
Post war migration to the “Mother” country from the West Indies, deals with the realities of poverty, racism, cold weather and dire prospects of finding work. These migrants developed friendships in hardship and resilience to overcome these barriers and they get by.
London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City by Sukhdev Sandhu
How Black and Asian writers imagined a city. It is the first book to explore the literature written by Black and Asian people in London and their experiences, by someone who lives and breathes the air of Shadwell. From 18th century’s Ignatius Sancho to contemporary Hanif Kureishi, providing a glimpse of adventures, challenges and a range of writing styles. A homage to multiculturalism.
Dr Angray S Kang - Reader in Molecular Cell Biology and Programme Lead: MSc Experimental Oral Pathology, Module Lead SSC and Fellow HEA, SMD
Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Reni wrote a blog post in 2014 titled Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race which got a lot of positive and negative feedback. In the post she states that she can no longer engage with a gulf of emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. As a continuation of that dialogue, the author turned it into a book. This book sheds light on race relations in Britain and the structural racism that infiltrates every aspects of our lives during this current political climate.
Why I enjoyed the book:
I enjoyed this book because it is well researched and clearly outlines the historical context of black identities in Britain and racial incidents that are either not understood by the public or forgotten. It illuminates how racism impacts on life chances of people of colour compared to their white counterparts. It is also an articulation of the voices that are not heard and the people that are not seen due to their non-white identity as well as those that were victim to racism and struggled to get justice.
Why it matters to me:
It matters to me on three dimensions. At a personal level I have witnessed and have had direct experience of racism myself being a woman of colour. Secondly, as a post graduate student with a background in social sciences I am concerned with societal challenges. Western democracies such as Britain is not free of injustice or serious social problems, therefore, I am interested in what the alternatives are that can shape solutions through key thinkers, academics, writers, politicians, entrepreneurs, and citizens. And third, this book is significant at this moment in time because we are currently faced with three intersecting global crisis which include health crisis, economic crisis and social crisis. Whilst discussions on race relations are becoming increasingly salient there is a need for greater understanding on the matter of racism, black identities, white privilege, and British society. Although black writers have addressed race relations mostly from the United States, there are very few British black writers that have addressed the race issues that plight the fabric of Britain today. The author calls for white people to take responsibility and lead on the reform of the current racial structure. It should not be left solely on the shoulders of those at the bottom. She states that collectively we have the power to shape our world for the better.
Emma Shakir – MA Student at the Geography Department
African Civilisations by William Huggins
It is about the rich history of Ethiopia and it analyses how the human civilisation was born there. It also talks about the rich empires that African countries had and how they became successful. It talks about how the tribes migrated into different places and how Africans had a huge impact in European culture such as art, music and etc.
I enjoyed this book because Africa has a very rich history that I don’t get taught about so reading and seeing how successful and resilient my ancestors were, it gave me more motivation to make a positive change in African countries. It matters to me because it teaches me about my roots.
Black and British by David Olusoga
It speaks about the relationship the British empire had with Africa especially in west Africa, speaks about slavery and the impacts. Analyses the idea the European had about black people. Analyses the impact the black British had in Britain and how much they contributed to the history. Shows the struggles black people constantly face in Britain.
I enjoyed this because I really didn’t have a lot of knowledge about black British people and their impact towards black history, so learning key dates and key facts was really refreshing.
It matters to me because it teaches me the clear impact that black people.
Catia Sané - Undergraduate student of international relations
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography written by former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Born a crime by Trevor Noah
An autobiographical comedy book written by South African comeddian Trevor Noah.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that tells the story of a young Nigerian woman, who immigrates to the United States to attend university.
The Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
An autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali activist and politician.
Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo
A gay love story about an Antiguan Londoner.
I'm Not Your Babymother by Candice Brathwaite
A thought provoking and inspirational guide to life as a black mother. Exploring the stages from pregnancy to the school gate while facing obstacles like racial micro-aggression, unconscious bias and white privilege.
I'm Nobody's Nigger by Dean Atta
A collection of poetry exploring, race, identity, and sexuality. Dean also shares his perspectives on family, friendship, relationships, and London life, from the rights to one-night stands.
Dr Georgina Hosang - Senior Lecturer in Mental Illness & Chronic Diseases - Centre for Psychiatry, SMD
In Biafra, Africa died: the diplomatic plot by Emefiena Ezeani
This book gives an account of the Nigeria-Biafra war. Although many stories have been written about the war, it is quite unique as it tells the story of how the war was a plot by certain world powers against the emancipation of the black race.
I think the book will be an interesting read for students in political science, history and international relations.
Obichukwu Jaachike Iwunna - Institute of Population Health Sciences
Girl, Women, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
I recently read Girl, Women, Other by Bernadine Evaristo and it became my favorite book. I am sure someone else has already recommended this book but still, it deserves to be promoted as much as possible.
Anita Moukori - first-year student - English and French Law Degree
Americanah by Ngozi Adichie
My favourite book by a black author is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s closely followed by Half of a Yellow Sun, also by her.
The book is about a Nigerian student Ifemelu who moves over to America to study and her journey of getting to grips with a new, unfamiliar culture and her life shuttling between Nigeria and America. As she gets older she gains a following in America with her blog Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black. I enjoyed it as it’s brilliantly written, touching, poignant and insightful. As someone of dual heritage whose father moved from India to the UK in his 20s, I’m always interested in stories of migration and this is a fantastic one.
Abi Gaston - Joint Acting Head of Careers and Enterprise.
Self -Portrait in Black and White by Thomas Chatterton
I have recently read the book "Self-Portrait in Black and White" by the black American author Thomas Chatterton Williams, a reflection of race and identity, through the account of his personal journey. I was very impressed by the book, in particular the description of how the expectation of society and his self-identification interacted in various stages in his life.
The book is a self-portrait of the son of a black father from the segregated American south and a white mother from the west coast. He grew up in New Jersey with a clear Black identity but ended up as an expat in Paris, where he is classified as Arab, married to a white French wife.
In the book, the author portraits the impact of societal racial stereotypes on his self-identity and his personal journey from fiercely embracing it to trying to transcend it without betraying his heritage.
Why I liked it
Although I can probably never really understand how it feels to live in a society where the majority has a different skin color, I see parallels in how I myself, as a woman, struggled between embracing and trying to overcome gender stereotypes. I liked the respectful way of how he reflects on different approaches to the topic of racial identity and its connection to other social categories.
Ulla Blumenschein - Senior Lecturer In Particle Physics - School of Physics and Astronomy