It has been an exciting first few weeks of the year with the comings and goings of Black authors and writers, crafting, learning, sharing and offering the world prose that permeates from the outer reaches of their subconscious. From the depths of this sector of the mind come stories and literature that nurture the oak and maple trees, the apple and lemon trees, and the bonsai and orchids of word formation.
This week, it is with grace and humility that we highlight three books—one, an upcoming memoir of intercontinental modern life; another, a classical African epic; and a sultry Jamaican memoir; books that all promise great adventure, Black honesty, socio-emotional inner searching, the yearning for substance within the inner and outer world, and of course, beautifully crafted sentences.
When books give life, we, in turn, are able to give love, healing, support and grace to others. When we are fed by the Black voice, the Black heart, we are nourished; mind, body and soul.
“Blackgirl on Mars” by Leslie Ann Brown | Repeater Books
The AmNews had had the pleasure of featuring Brown’s debut 2018’s “Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black Woman to Her European Son,” a visceral, touching book by a mother who shared her observations and wisdom to honor and acknowledge the evolution of her son’s life. Her long-awaited second book, “Blackgirl on Mars,” written while journeying through the United States during the height of the Black Lives Matters protests and finding herself in Trinidad and Tobago to lay her grandmother to rest, Brown gives her account of the existential reality of the maintenance of her own Black life within the realms of gender, sexuality, cultural connectivity and self-awareness.
“The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi” by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o | The New Press
This story is of Gĩkũyũ, Mũmbi and their nine daughters as they travel through mountains, volcanos and grasslands filled with wildlife and the lineage of their spirits and loins. It promises to be a classic in the coming decades as this work of epic proportion positively differentiates itself due to its soothing, spaciously and airily written voice.
“How to Say Babylon: A Memoir” by Safiya Sinclair | Simon and Schuster
Safiya Sinclair courageously tells her story; a spellbinding account of her home life, living encased within the confines of her father’s oppressive patriarchal rule. She and her sisters, forced to wear long skirts and clothing covering their frames, headscarves’ and no accessories or adornments, watch their mother survive the violence of their father by staunch self-education. The only true source of power she possessed was the books she handed down to her girls, and the books she read to fortify herself to face her reality each day.
Sinclair spoke to “Literary Hub” about “Babylon”: “A forging of something else, someone new. The cover, which holds an immediate resonance for me, suggests not only a severing, a moment of power, but also a daughter’s reclaiming of her own narrative…The trajectory of my life, and of my family’s life, changed completely after this. Here is a breaking with a religious tradition, a turning away.”