Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.
It’s Black History Month! *signal the DJ horns* Already, Beyoncé is the most Grammy-decorated artist (honestly, I’d be surprised if she wasn’t), and Viola Davis is officially an EGOT winner. So we’re off to a good start!
I’ll keep the mood going by recommending some bookmarks, sharing some new releases, and getting into a few books by Black authors that you should put on your radar for 2023!
Black Writers Bookmarks by KLigg
These gorgeous bookmarks feature some of the most iconic Black American writers and one of their most thought-provoking quotes. $10 for the trio.
Victory City by Salman Rushdie
Award-winning author Salman Rushdie returns with a novel that mixes aspects of a real city with the ancient tradition of epic myth writing. Pampa Kampana is a 9-year-old girl who is grieving the loss of her mother when she becomes the vessel of goddess Parvati. Through Pampa, Parvati speaks, bringing the city of Bisnaga into a fantastical existence. The new city is meant to be a bastion of progress and equality for women, but as with all great cities, there is a fight for power that threatens to ruin everything.
A Spell of Good Things by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
Eniola and Wuraola are from two different walks of life in modern Nigeria. Eniola has to hustle for money since his father lost his job, and is at risk of being kicked out of his school for a failure to pay tuition. Meanwhile, Wuraola is a physician, born into a more affluent social class. Despite existing in totally different worlds, their lives will violently meet against a backdrop of obsession and politics.
More New Releases:
The Spite House by Johnny Compton
VenCo by Cherie Dimaline
What Napoleon Could Not Do by DK Nnuro
Akim Aliu: Dreamer by Akim Aliu (Middle Grade graphic novel)
Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire (Young Adult)
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.
In addition to new releases I’ve already recently discussed, like Maame by Jessica George, make sure to check out these new releases by Black authors:
Chain-Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (April 4)
The world of Chain-Gang All Stars is one in which private prisons have absolute control over their populations and have developed an entertainment program that pits prisoners against each other in lethal matches that determine whether they go free or not. Two of the stars of this gladiator-like competition, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx,” are also lovers, and one of them is intent on getting her freedom and caring for her fellow inmates. But the powers that be would rather see everyone at each others’ throats. Literally.
The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest (February 28)
This is a 180 in terms of mood from the previous book. It follows Lily, a shy bookworm who hopes to be a children’s book editor, but who has been in the nonfiction department forever now. Then there’s her family, whose goals are vastly different from her own. To escape a reality that isn’t quite going her way, she starts emailing her favorite fantasy author, and the two of them actually foster a friendship that may turn into something more. But then he disappears. Later, Lily needs a date for her sister’s wedding and looks to Nick Brown, her new neighbor who, unbeknownst to her, is the fantasy author she was emailing all those months ago…
Dyscalculia by Camonghne Felix (February 14)
Poet Felix weaves in her childhood dyscalculia, a disorder that influences how numbers are understood and interpreted, into her miscalculations in her adult life. This is a clever and raw memoir that will have you in your feelings, even as it makes you laugh.
The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar by Robin R. Means Coleman and Mark H. Harris
Even within my life, I remember when horror movies were known for killing the Black person first — who was usually a man — showing how disposable they thought the character, and even Black people as a whole, were. In this new book, the authors explore this very recent history and how far we’ve diverged from it. It’s interesting to see how much sociology lies within the horror genre, and how the fight to be treated equally — or should I say, the reaction to that fight — can be seen in horror’s treatment of The Other through the years. This is such an interesting book.