Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Check out our list of books to read and enjoy during this year's Black History Month UK that includes fiction and non-fiction titles.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadette Evaristo
The perfect companion to our Sharing Journeys campaign for this year’s Black History Month UK and our book of the month!
Tracking the lives and loves of 12 characters, most of them Black British women, through generations and social classes, Girl, Woman, Other weaves a distinctive, illuminating tapestry of modern British life. Bridging the gap between short story and novel, each character has their own chapter. Within the chapters, their lives sometimes overlap but their choices could not be more different. They include Amma, a lesbian socialist playwright, Windrush wife and mother Winsome, and mixed raced Hattie who finds love with an African American soldier in 1940s England.
A Black Boy in Eton by Dillibe Onyeama
Dillibe was the second black boy to study at Eton - joining in 1965 - and the first to complete his education there. Written at just 21, this is a deeply personal, revelatory account of the racism he endured during his time as a student at the prestigious institution.
He tells in vivid detail of his own background as the son of a Nigerian judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, of his arrival at the school, of the curriculum, of his reception by other boys (and masters), and of his punishments. He tells, too, of the cruel racial prejudice and his reactions to it, and of the alienation and stereotyping he faced at such a young age.
A title in the Black Britain: Writing Back series - selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.
The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
Nadifa Mohamed’s third novel reimagines the real-life story of the Somali seaman who was wrongfully executed for murder in Wales.
Mahmood Mattan is a fixture in Cardiff's Tiger Bay, 1952, which bustles with Somali and Caribbean sailors, Maltese businessmen and Jewish families. He is a father, chancer, and some-time petty thief. He is many things, in fact, but he is not a murderer.
So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn't too worried. It is true that he has been getting into trouble more often since his Welsh wife Laura left him. But Mahmood is secure in his innocence in a country where, he thinks, justice is served.
It is only in the run-up to the trial, as the prospect of freedom dwindles, that it will dawn on Mahmood that he is in a terrifying fight for his life - against conspiracy, prejudice and the inhumanity of the state. And, under the shadow of the hangman's noose, he begins to realise that the truth may not be enough to save him.
It takes Blood and Guts by Skin with Lucy O’Brien
Pioneering singer and frontwoman of rock bank Skunk Anansie tells us how she fought poverty and prejudice to become one of the most influential women in British rock.
'It's been a very difficult thing being a lead singer of a rock band looking like me and it still is. I have to say it's been a fight and it will always be a fight. That fight drives you and makes you want to work harder... It's not supposed to be easy, particularly if you're a woman, you're black or you are gay like me. You've got to keep moving forward, keep striving for everything you want to be.'
Born to Jamaican parents, Skin grew up in Brixton in the 1970s. Her career as an artist began in the '90s, when Skunk Anansie was formed in the sweat-drenched backrooms of London's pubs. Since then she has headlined Glastonbury and toured the world, both as the lead singer of Skunk Anansie and as a solo artist.
Her success has been ground-breaking in every way, which has come at a personal cost. She has always been vocal about social and cultural issues, and was championing LGBTQ+ rights at a time when few artists were out and gay.
A Visible Man by Edward Enninful
I set out to bring the 'othered' to the table. We're here to inspire and give people something to dream about as well as a sense of the possible here and now.
A Visible Man traces an astonishing journey into one of the world's most exclusive industries. Edward Enninful candidly shares how as a Black, gay, working-class refugee, he found in fashion not only a home, but the freedom to share with people the world as he saw it. Written with style, grace and heart, this is the story of a visionary who changed not only an
industry, but how we understand beauty.
When Edward Enninful became the first Black editor-in-chief of British Vogue, few at the heights of the elitist world of fashion wanted to confront how it failed to represent the world we live in. But Edward, a champion of inclusion throughout his life, rapidly changed that. Now, whether it's putting first responders, octogenarians or civil rights activists on the cover of Vogue, or championing designers and photographers of colour, Edward Enninful has cemented his status as one of the world's most important change-makers. And he's just getting started.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Published on a wave of critical acclaim – and breathless enthusiasm from our booksellers – Candice Carty-Williams’ luminous debut is a joy-filled, painfully funny coming-of-age story set in modern Britain. Fabulous but flawed, defiant but vulnerable, Queenie Jenkins is one of the great fictional creations of the twenty-first century, and her story is, by turns, hilariously funny, dramatic and movingly tender.
Caught between the Jamaican British family who don’t seem to understand her, a job that’s not all it promised and a man she just can’t get over, Queenie’s life seems to be steadily spiralling out of control. Desperately trying to navigate her way through a hot mess of shifting cultures and toxic relationships and emerge with a shred of dignity, her missteps and misadventures will provoke howls of laughter and tears of pity – frequently on the same page.
Tackling issues as diverse as mental health, race, class and consent with a light yet sure touch, Queenie is refreshingly candid, delightfully compassionate and bracingly real. The perfect fable for a frenetic and confusing time, Carty-Williams’ stellar novel is undoubtedly one of the year’s most exciting debuts and announces its author as a fresh and vibrant new voice in British literature.
Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
In this heart-warming romantic comedy, the sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo is an expert in relationship-evasion, and likes to keep her feelings close to her chest. As the host of the popular student radio show, Brown Sugar, it is her mission to make sure the women who make up the Afro-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University also do not fall into the mess of 'situationships', players and heartbreak.
But when Kiki meets the distressingly handsome and charming newcomer Malakai Korede - who she has publicly denounced as 'The Wasteman of Whitewell' - her defences are weakened and her heart is compromised. A clash embroils them in a fake relationship to salvage both their reputations and save their futures, and soon she finds herself in danger of falling for the very man she warned her girls about.
The Day I Fell Off My Island by Yvonne Bailey-Smith
The debut novel of Yvonne Bailey-Smith, mother to the award-winning and acclaimed writer, Zadie Smith, tells the story of a young girl who travels to England to be reunited with her family after the death of her grandmother.
The Day I Fell Off My Island tells the story of Erna Mullings, a teenage Jamaican girl uprooted from her island following the sudden death of her beloved grandmother. When Erna is sent to England to be reunited with her siblings, she dreads leaving behind her elderly grandfather, and the only life she has ever known. A new future unfolds, in a strange country and with a mother she barely knows. The next decade will be a complex journey of estrangement and arrival, new beginnings, and the uncovering of long-buried secrets.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
Sara Collins’ The Confessions of Frannie Langton takes place in 1826 London, and tells the story of Frannie, a maid to the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Benham — and the prime suspect for their murder. Collins writes from Frannie’s point of view, centering the protagonist in her own story as she is put on trial for the murders. Tracing Frannie’s life from a Jamaican plantation to Georgian London, this ambitious novel introduces a bold new voice to the period novel genre.
Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm by Robin Diangelo
Racism is not a simple matter of good people versus bad. In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explained how racism is a system into which all white people are socialized. She also made a provocative claim: that white progressives cause the most daily harm to people of colour. In Nice Racism, her follow-up work, she explains how they do so.
Drawing on her background as a sociologist and over twenty-five years working as an antiracist educator, she moves the conversation forward. Writing directly to white people as a white person, DiAngelo identifies many common racial patterns and breaks down how well-intentioned white people unknowingly perpetuate racial harm. These patterns include rushing to prove that we are 'not racist'; downplaying white advantage; romanticizing Black, Indigenous and other peoples of colour; pretending white segregation 'just happens'; expecting BIPOC people to teach us about racism; carefulness; and shame. She challenges the ideology of Individualism and explains why it is OK to generalize about white people, and demonstrates how white people who experience other oppressions still benefit from systemic racism. Writing candidly about her own missteps and struggles, she models a path forward, encouraging white readers to continually face their complicity and embrace courage, lifelong commitment and accountability.