We’re celebrating Black History Month and giving you the chance to WIN a huge selection of books – from award-winners to contemporary classics…
Black History Month. A moment to look back; to learn, to celebrate. And books offer one of the simplest – and most pleasurable ways to do that. We’ve teamed up with some of our favourite publishers to give you the chance to win a huge bundle of books, all perfect for getting to know a little more about black history. So, what can you win?
Washington Black – Esi Edugyan
When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him. From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again. Washington Black is published by Serpent’s Tail.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is published by Bloomsbury.
Stay With Me – Ayobami Adebayo
Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me is a story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the power of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about the desperate attempts we make to save ourselves, and those we love, from heartbreak. Stay With Me is published by Canongate.
The Fishermen – Chigozie Obioma
In a small town in western Nigeria, four young brothers – the youngest is nine, the oldest fifteen – use their strict father’s absence from home to go fishing at a forbidden local river. They encounter a dangerous local madman who predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by another. This prophesy breaks their strong bond and unleashes a tragic chain of events of almost mythic proportions. Passionate and bold, The Fishermen is a breathtakingly beautiful novel firmly rooted in the best of African storytelling. With this powerful debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices of modern African literature. The Fisherman is published by Pushkin Press.
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds. Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. Sing Unburied Sing is published by Bloomsbury.
Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward
In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own. Men We Reaped is published by Bloomsbury.
Here Comes the Sun – Nicole Dennis-Benn
In this radiant, highly anticipated debut, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican village. Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise. Here Comes the Sun is published by One World.
Kintu – Jennifer Makumbi
In this epic tale of fate, fortune and legacy, Jennifer Makumbi vibrantly brings to life this corner of Africa and this colourful family as she reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. The year is 1750. Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda kingdom. Along the way he unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. Blending oral tradition, myth, folktale and history, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break free from the burden of their past to produce a majestic tale of clan and country – a modern classic. Kintu is published by One World.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads – Clemantine Wamariya
Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive. In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms. The Girl Who Smiled Beads is published by Penguin Random House.
Sugar Money – Jane Harris
Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas – and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste – he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’. With great characters, a superb narrative set up, and language that is witty and thrillingly alive, Sugar Money is a novel to treasure. Sugar Money is published by Faber & Faber.
What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography – Alan Light
Drawing on glimpses into previously unseen diaries, rare interviews and childhood journals, and with the aid of her daughter, What Happened, Miss Simone? tells the story of the classically trained pianist who became a soul legend, a committed civil rights activist and one of the most influential, provocative and least understood artists of our time. This is the story of the real Miss Simone. What Happened, Miss Simone? is published by Canongate.
Wake Me When I’m Gone – Odafe Atogun
Everyone says that Ese is the most beautiful woman in the region, but a fool. A young widow, she lives in a village, where the crops grow tall and the people are ruled over by a Chief on a white horse. She married for love, but now her husband is dead, leaving her with nothing but a market stall and a young son to feed. When the Chief knocks on Ese’s door demanding that she marry again, as the laws of the land dictate she must, Ese is a fool once more. Wake Me When I’m Gone is a story of curses broken and lives remade, of great tragedy and incredible rebirth. In this, his second novel, Nigerian writer Odafe Atogun unfolds a world rich with tradition and folklore, a world filled with incredible people of remarkable strength, a world that is changing fast. Wake Me When I’m Gone is published by Canongate.
BRIT(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging – Afua Hirsch
The Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the uncomfortable truth about race and identity in Britain today You’re British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you’re from? We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch’s personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be – and an urgent call for change. BRIT(ish) is published by Penguin Random House.
Taduno’s Song – Odafe Atogun
The day a stained brown envelope arrives from Taduno’s homeland, he knows that the time has come to return from exile. Back in Nigeria, Taduno discovers that his community no longer recognises him, his girlfriend Lela has disappeared, taken away by government agents, and all traces of his old life have been erased. All that is left of him are his own memories. As Taduno begins to unravel the mystery of his lost life he must also face a difficult decision: betray his love, or betray his nation. Taduno’s Song is published by Canongate.
Quicksand & Passing – Nella Larsen
A writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Nella Larsen wrote just two novels and a handful of short stories. Critically acclaimed, both speak powerfully of the contradictions and restrictions experienced by black women at that time. Quicksand, written in 1928, is an autobiographical novel about Helga Crane, a mixed race woman caught between fulfilling her desires and gaining respectability in her middle class neighbourhood. Written a year later, Passing tells the story of two childhood friends, Clare and Irene, both light skinned enough to pass as white. Reconnecting in adulthood, Clare has chosen to live as a white woman, while Irene embraces black culture and has an important role in her community. Quicksand & Passing is published by Serpent’s Tail.
How to take part? Follow Reading in Heels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – like the photo post and tag a friend in the comments – and retweet/share the post. That’s it! The competition closes Monday 29th October at MIDNIGHT!