2017 was a monumental year for BME authors, especially with the likes of Reni Eddo-Lodge and her debut publication: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Nikesh Shukla’s The Good Immigrant. Both authors challenged the way the nation thinks about race and identity as well as giving informative historical background with intricate examples and anecdotes.
Not only did they raise countless important issues, but presented a whole new narrative on re-defining what is commonly misunderstood and ignored when it comes to issues of racism in Western society.
The Metro UK has put together a comprehensive list of the best new titles by BME authors this year and we’ve short-listed the top 15. If it’s a recurring New Year’s resolution for you to read more this year, trust us, you’ll definitely want to.
- Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible
By Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, 4th Estate, 12 July
Quite literally a bible, this is the quintessential black woman’s guide to life for a generation of British women ‘inspired to make Lemonade out of lemons.’ Read Adegoke’s wisdom-filled essays on work, dating, beauty, representation, money, education and health and how being black and female affects each of these. (Look out for our interview with these slay queens, soon).
- In Our Mad And Furious City
By Guy Gunaratne, Tinder Press, 3 May
The killing of a British soldier sparks riots across a London council estate where three teenage boys, Sevlon, Ardan and Yusuf are growing up. Reminiscent of the 2011 London riots, it’s a sobering look on how little has changed. Gunaratne explores issues of identity and belonging, imploring readers for change in a deep-rooted fragmented society.
- Brit(ish) on race, identity and belonging
By Afua Hirsch, Jonathan Cape, 1 February
Written by broadcaster and writer Afua Hirsch, this book highlights the complex relationship between past and present, immigration vs. tolerance and the search for identity. Definitely one for anyone who’s ever been asked “Where are you from?” even if you’re born and raised in the UK. (Look out for our review, coming soon).
- The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
Edited by Jesemyn Ward, Bloomsbury Circus, 19 April
Particularly poignant given last year’s American presidential election, this anthology includes essays and poems on race in America and eighteen influential thinkers explore the past, present and future of American race relations.
- The Leavers
By Lisa Ko, Dialogue Books, 26 April
When an eleven-year-old’s mother from the Bronx goes missing, he’s adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors. Moving upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson, he struggles to reconcile the expectation of assimilation and the community he left behind.
- Forgotten Women: The Scientists
By Zing Tsjeng, 8 March, Octopus Publishing
Tsjeng’s book gives credit to 48 women scientists that classical history books have long forgotten. The author doesn’t stop there as the next in the series is The Leaders, all about ground-breaking women who made vast contributions to history, without actually making history.
By Aminatta Forna, Bloomsbury, 5 April
Get lost in a tale of unlikely friendship against London’s multicultural backdrop. A Ghanaian psychiatrist and an American studying the habits of urban foxes have a chance encounter in this book by Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning author, Aminatta Forna. Read our review of her bestseller, The Memory of Love.
- White Girls
By Hilton Als, Penguin, 1 February
You’ll be whisked away on a wild journey as Als travels through the last decades of the twentieth century from the AIDS epidemic to photographs of lynchings in the rural South. He covers topics on blackness, racial identity, queerness, true love and tragic loss.
- So You Want to Talk About Race
By Ijeoma Oluo, Seal Press, 8 February
This thought-provoking book is in the typical no-nonsense style of Oluo, asking the questions that are too taboo for public chat. She addresses white privilege, intersectionality, the Black Lives Matter movement and the “N” word.
- Calling A Wolf a Wolf
By Kaveh Akbar, Penguin Random House, 1 February
By the award-winning poet Kaveh Akbar, this selection explores the anguish of alcoholism, craving, control and the battle for sobriety, as well as the idea that the feeling of desire doesn’t always have to be so dark.
- Go Home!
By Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Feminist Press, 15 March
Ever wondered what it means to belong? What happens when you’re an outsider both in the country you were born and the country your parents were born? The slur ‘Go home’ is used as the background of this essay collection and Asian diasporic writers imagine the concept of ‘home’ through fiction, memoir and poetry.
- Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
By Roxane Gay, Harper Perennial, 1 May
A different slant on the perils of racism, Gay compiles a collection of essays that explore rape culture and the refugee crisis. It’s unflinching and raw, not a comfortable read but definitely an important one.
- The Terrible
By Yrsa Daley-Ward, Penguin Books, 5 June
Daley-Ward is a writer and poet with mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Her first book, Bone, hit critical acclaim. Now, her new book is a tale of chance encounters, pain and joy that come with family life, adolescence and sexuality.
By Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, Penguin Random House, 7 June
Eberhardt makes a powerful point in Biased that even without overt racism, biases powerfully shape behaviour. As a Stanford psychology professor, she draws on academic research which concludes that biases lead to racial disparities across all society.
By David Chariandy, Bloomsbury, 8 March
In a raw and touching coming of age tale, Chariandy tells the tale of sons of Trinidadian immigrants and the battle the two brothers face against prejudice and low expectations in 1991 Scarborough, Ontario.