New Reads for June
This June we are showcasing new reads by Black African and Caribbean writers!
26a by Diana Evans
A hauntingly beautiful, wickedly funny, and devastatingly moving novel of innocence and dreams that announces the arrival of a major new talent to the literary scene
In the attic room at 26 Waifer Avenue, identical twins Georgia and Bessi Hunter share nectarines and forge their identities, while escaping from the sadness and danger that inhabit the floors below. But innocence lasts for only so long—and dreams, no matter how vivid and powerful, cannot slow the relentless incursion of the real world.
Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett
Furo Wariboko – born and bred in Lagos – wakes up on the morning of his job interview to discover he has turned into a white man. As he hits the city streets running, still reeling from his new-found condition, Furo finds the dead ends of his life open out before him. As a white man in Nigeria, the world is seemingly his oyster – except for one thing: despite his radical transformation, Furo’s ass remains robustly black…
Funny, fierce, inventive and daringly provocative – this is a very modern satire, with a sting in the tail.
Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie
A fragile outsider living in London, Joy struggles to pull the threads of her life back together after her mother’s sudden death. Emptiness consumes her and, needing to fill the gaps of her loss, she finds she is drawn to a unique artefact inherited from her mother – a warrior’s head cast in brass that belonged to a king in eighteenth century Benin, Nigeria.
Joy is haunted by a beautiful young woman who appears in her photographs, familiar yet beguilingly distinct, the woman trails her wherever she goes. Joy begins to dream of a different time, a different place. She feels an inexplicable pull towards this mysterious female, and a past revealing itself through clues is scattered in her path. As family secrets come to light, she unearths the ties between her mother, grandfather, the wife of the king, a fearsome warrior, and the brass head’s pivotal connection to them all.
Death Trap by Dreda Say Mitchell
Teenager Nikki Bell is the only witness to the brutal murder of two members of her family and their cleaner. She’s lucky to be alive. But the murder isn’t a one-off. It’s part of a bigger, more violent attack planned on affluent families in the area – and now Nikki, as the only living witness, is a dangerous threat to the well-orchestrated scheme.
As the net draws tighter around the killers, DI Rio Wray must do whatever it takes to keep Nikki alive. But when you’re dealing with criminals, there’s no line they won’t cross… In a kill-or-be-killed-world, who will be first to pull the trigger?
Liccle Bit by Alex Wheatle
At school Lemar, also known as Liccle Bit due to his height, is like any teenage boy. He’s in love with a girl who barely notices him, he mucks about with his best mates and he spends a lot of time doodling in his work books. However, at home on the South Crongton Estate his mum is constantly exhausted, his sister is struggling to adjust to life as a single Mother, and his dad is living on the other side of London with his new family.
At least Lemar has art to help him escape, and it’s even getting him some attention from the girl he likes, Venetia King. Yet Lemar has also gained the attention of South Crongton’s most notorious gangster, and it’s not long before he has Lemar running errands for him. Soon a chain of events will see Lemar down a road he never wanted to go down, will he be able to stop it?
The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed
It is 1988 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds but still the dictatorship remains secure. Soon, and through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall.
Nine-year-old Deqo has left the vast refugee camp she was born in, lured to the city by the promise of her first pair of shoes. Kawsar, a solitary widow, is trapped in her little house with its garden clawed from the desert, confined to her bed after a savage beating in the local police station. Filsan, a young female soldier, has moved from Mogadishu to suppress the rebellion growing in the north. And as the country is unravelled by a civil war that will shock the world, the fates of the three women are twisted irrevocably together.
Intimate, frank, brimming with beauty and fierce love, The Orchard of Lost Souls is an unforgettable account of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary times.
People Person by Candice Carty-Williams
Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.
She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
Radical Love by Neil Blackmore
Welcome to England, 1809. London is a violent, intolerant city, exhausted by years of war, beset by soaring prices and political tensions. By day, John Church preaches on the radical possibilities of love to a multicultural, working-class congregation in Southwark. But by night, he crosses the river to the secret and glamorous world of a gay molly house on Vere Street, where ordinary men reinvent themselves as funny, flirtatious drag queens and rent boys cavort with labourers and princes alike. There, Church becomes the first minister to offer marriages between men, at enormous risk.
Everything changes when Church meets the unworldly and free-thinking Ned, part of a group of African activist abolitionists who attend his chapel. The two bond over their broken childhoods, and Church falls obsessively in love with Ned’s tender nature. In a fragile, colourful secret world under threat, Church’s love for Ned takes him to the edge of reason.
A River Called Time by Courttia Newland
The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning.
Years after the Ark was cut off from the world–a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed–a chance of survival within the Ark’s confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: without warning, his spirit leaves his body, allowing him to see and experience a world far beyond his physical limitations.
Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. He is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities, and in doing so uncovers the truth about the Ark, himself, and the people he thought he once knew.
Savvy Sheldon Feels Good As Hell by Taj McCoy
Savvy Sheldon spends a lot of time tiptoeing around the cracks in her life: her high-stress and low-thanks job, her clueless boyfriend and the falling-apart kitchen she inherited from her beloved grandma—who taught her how to cook and how to love people by feeding them. But when Savvy’s world starts to crash down around her, she knows it’s time for some renovations.
Starting from the outside in, Savvy tackles her crumbling kitchen, her relationship with her body, her work–life balance (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, her love life. The only thing that doesn’t seem to require effort is her ride-or-die squad of friends. Savvy begins to realize that maybe she should’ve started her renovations the other way around: beginning with how she sees herself before building a love that lasts.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire in the harmattan. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart. Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance he can only hurtle towards tragedy.
First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe’s stark, coolly ironic novel reshaped both African and world literature, and has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages. This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.
To Fill A Yellow House by Sussie Anie
When Kwasi and his family move abruptly from one side of London to the other, he sets out to explore his new home. Escaping the watchful eyes of Ma and Da and his irrepressible Aunties, he discovers the local high street and a hidden river. Back at the yellow house, he spends hours drawing, distracting himself from thoughts of the new school that awaits.
As the years pass, the high street remains a source of fascination for Kwasi. But behind the ever-changing shopfronts, it’s a different story. Business is slow and times are getting tougher. Widower Rupert has been trying to hold on to the dreams he and his wife poured into their eclectic charity shop, The Chest of Small Wonders, but now he is close to giving up.
One October night, Kwasi finds himself in trouble and takes refuge in the Chest, and an unexpected friendship begins. As he and Rupert unite to save the shop, they each find a sense of belonging. But old patterns are hard to change, and as tensions around them escalate, difficult choices lie ahead.