14 Books By Black Authors To Read This Black History Month

Liza Bilal highlights the talents and initiatives of Black British, Caribbean and African creatives exploring race, culture and identity in their own unique and insightful way.

The first of October marked the beginning of Black History Month 2022 in the UK. This time celebrates the legacy, accomplishments and contributions of Black people across the world, particularly those from countries colonised by the British Empire. Ghanian activist and writer Akyaaba Addai-Sebo can be credited for establishing the full 31 days for celebration and choosing October to coincide with the beginning of the academic year, centring the education of young people in the creation of Black History Month. 

Although Britain has had some monumental moments concerning the conversation of race, especially since the wave of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, significant strides are yet to be made. In the Conservative borough of Hillingdon in London, the council continually refuses to acknowledge Black History Month, side-stepping council-funded initiatives and events during the month of October despite several years of appeal from residents. In addition, Home Office stats show that racist hate crimes in England and Wales have increased by 19% from 2021-2022.  

Evidently, Black History Month is just as necessary today as it was in the 80s. One of the ways we at BRICKS are celebrating Black History Month is through spotlighting Black creatives from the UK that are not only flexing their unique talents, but pushing important topics within their communities. Here are 14 books from Black UK-based authors that we think you should be reading this month, and beyond:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other from critically acclaimed author and academic Bernadine Evaristo delves into the ups and downs of twelve character’s lives, most of whom are Black British women. Winner of the British Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year 2020 and joint winner of the Booker Prize 2019, each story explores relationships between friends, family and lovers across different years and locations.

Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola

Sunday Times Bestseller Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola is a collection of reimagined love stories from around the world. Drawing on history and mythology from West Africa, the Middle East and Greece, Babaola’s debut book beautifully brings to light conceptions of love from unlikely places.

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

With Trinidad and Tobago as its backdrop, this beautiful love story tells the mythical tale of two individuals connected through death. Banwo’s debut novel explores loss, inheritance and the healing power of love.

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

From musician, academic and activist Akala, Natives unpacks the legacy of the British Empire while discussing education, politics, policing and identity. As a Sunday Times Best Seller, this book confronts the British denial of its colonial past.

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch 

From Sunday Times Bestselling author Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish) is a powerful and personal discussion about belonging, identity and race in Britain. Hirsch examines British eurocentrism through her own experience as a racialised woman.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 

This bold and heartwarming novel from poet Dean Atta tells the story of a young mixed-race boy grappling with sexual identity. Through the art of drag, Micheal is able to find his wings and fly, embracing his individuality on the way.

Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller 

Kei Miller, the award-winning writer and poet, explores the experience of racial discrimination through the idea of silence; how many important truths are hidden in the silence and what do we risk when we breach it? This hard-hitting collection of poems highlights the stories that haunt us and the dynamics of privilege, winning it the OCM Bocas Prize for nonfiction.

Ordinary People by Diana Evans 

Based in South London, Evan’s Ordinary People studies the dynamics of identity and parenthood, with an intimate discussion about sex, love, friendship and greif within the 21st century.

Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Set in the fictional Sonokrom, Ghana, this mystery crime novel begins in a village afflicted by a series of sinister discoveries. Ayikwei explores the dichotomy between new and old worlds, Western ‘logic’ and African spirituality in this beautifully written fantasy, grounded in Ghanaian culture.  

Sista!: An Anthology of Writing by and about Same Gender Loving Women Of African/Caribbean Descent with a UK Connection by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Sista! is an astonishing curation of stories, poetry and essays from 31 queer and non-binary Black and mixed race women who love other women. With Phyll Opoku-Gyimah of UK Black Pride as editor, this anthology is the companion to Team Angelica’s 2015 anthology, Black & Gay in the UK.  

Rainbow Milk: A Novel by Paul Mendez

Rainbow Milk is the bold and fearless coming-of-age novel from Jamaican-born writer Paul Mendez. Framed in London and the Black Country, Rainbow Milk tells the tale of a young Black gay man carving out his identity after being brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness at the turn of the millennium.  

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli 

This unconventional love story from Onyi Nwabineli explores themes of marriage, loss and perseverance through the character of Eve, a recent widow in a British-Nigerian family. This is Nwabineli’s debut novel, full of heart, humour and unexpected joy.

Unknown: A Refugee’s Story by Akuch Kuol Ayinieth

This deeply moving memoir from Ayinieth delves into the harsh realities of fleeing South Sudan during the country’s civil war. Moving from South Sudan, to Kenya, then Australia, Akuch finds herself unravelling the complexities of loss and violence while facing challenges of racism in her new found home.

The Big O: An Empowering Guide to Loving, Dating and F*cking by Oloni 

From British-Nigerian sex therapist and Twitter giant Oloni, The Big O is an honest and comprehensive guide to enhancing your sex life. Full of humour and compassion, this book discusses communication, kinks, sexual identities and more, as well as debunking taboos and creating open conversation.

Liza Bilal
Liza Bilal

Liza became part of the BRICKS family in 2020, appearing as a Digital cover star for her anti-racism activism during the pandemic, and has since become the BRICKS Production Assistant and a Staff Writer, focussing on pop culture and sociopolitical issues.

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