Monday, 4 February 2013

Black History Month: Black Authors that are a must read

In honor of Black History month, I've decided to try an devote as much as my blog space this month as possible to authors/artists of color. Over the years, I've read a number of books (both nonfiction and fiction) by notable black authors. Here is a short-list of my favorites.

1. Richard Wright-The Native Son. I think this book is definitely a must read because it is so complex and deals with the idea of repressed anger, the conflicted role of the supposed House-Nigger mentality and how black people view liberal whites. Are they just as culpable of racism? It's full of questions, but doesn't force-feed the reader answers. It forces you to come up with your own answers.

2. Wretched of the Earth-Franz Fanon: One of the most noted black authors on the subject of race and politics. This piece mostly focuses on the state of Africa post-colonization and argues that a new era of colonization is being entered. The state of Africa and Africans has not improved much since he wrote this book in the late 60s. It can be a depressing read, but its definitely interesting. It also was a big part of my personal awakening when it came to my own politics.

3. Walter Mosely-Devil Wears a Blue Dress. This book is not as well-known as its movie adaptation, but its a thrill-seeking ride into an unknown genre, black film noire. A bunch of books written by Mosley and Richard Wright (as well as other authors) comprised what was known as the Black exploration into the genre of film noire. These book dealt more with the seedy-underbelly of jazz clubs and the harlem social scene as opposed to detective offices in very white Manhattan. It was a new spin on an existing genre. There is a lyricism to the prose that makes one feel they listening to jazz as they read the text. It's definitely fun. Plus who can say no to a good murder mystery.

4. Lawerence Hill- To add a little Canadian to my list, Hill is a modern Afro-Canadian writer that has written many essays on the black experience in Canada, but it is his groundbreaking novel, The Book of Negroes that makes him truly stand-out. This novel recounts the slave experience from the point of view of a young Muslim girl who has been taken captive. It's a difficult read, but it is also a heart-breaking journey and well worth the read. This novel tries to tackle the historical issue of slavery by looking at the lives and identities slaves have left behind.

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