This selection of books have all been written by BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) authors and provide a thought-provoking look into race, prejudice and white privilege. Reading diverse literature is vastly important as it allows us to extend our understanding of the world and empathise with the experiences of others. I would recommend the books listed below as essential reads.
Here are six eye-opening books that deserve a place on your shelf.
1. Girl, Woman, Other -Bernardine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other is a contemporary and dynamic tale of modern Britain. This book follows twelve characters whose stories intertwine on their journey to self-discovery. The reader is exposed to what it means to be Black and British through the lens of each unique character.
Recommended by Barack Obama (2019) as one of the books that made the year “a little brighter for [him]”.
2. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race highlights the magnitude of structural racism in the US and around the world. Eddo-Lodge explores the nature of white privilege and helps her reader to understand and acknowledge their own privilege in this essential read.
“The most important book for me this year” – Emma Watson
3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography. Angelou writes about her experiences as a Black woman growing up in the Deep South, and her struggle with poverty, discrimination and sexual assault. An extraordinary and resilient author, Angelou’s memoir is hopeful, despite the cruelty she suffers.
4. An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
An American Marriage is a novel about an African American couple whose lives are torn apart when Roy is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Jones depicts a powerful and heart-breaking tale about America’s criminal justice system and the consequences of its injustices.
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan–American novelist born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is also the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. His New York Times bestsellers depict the experiences of families whose lives have been devastated by the Taliban. These books are gripping and beautifully written and are two of my favourite novels of all time.
6. Small Island – Andrea Levy
This novel illustrates the experiences of the Windrush generation arriving in Britain after World War Two. Gilbert Joseph left Jamaica to fight in the RAF against Hitler, though his treatment was different on returning to England as a civilian.
Small Island won the Orange Prize for Fiction, as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Now a major BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris.