Not to burst your bubble, but judging from the current pace of things, it is possible that we might still be home-bound this summer. If indeed this nightmare becomes a reality, I will most definitely spend most of my free time outdoors in the sun reading all of these must-reads on my current wish list - and I think you should too! As a PhD major in literatures of the African diaspora, I can't help but be biased in my selection ...
1. Girl Woman Other (2019) by Bernadine Evaristo
Bernadine Evaristo is without a doubt my favourite author. If I could turn back the hands of time, I my PhD would have been about her works especially my favourite novels: The Emperor's Babe, Lara, Blonde Roots, Mr. Loverman and possibly Girl, Woman, Other (which I have yet to finish reading). But not to worry, one of her novels is on my PhD corpus. I am amazed at how Ms. Evaristo carefully crafts her characters and clothes them with wit, sarcasm, irony and a grain of (dark) humour. All the more enthusiastic I am about how she skilfully weaves together the stories of 12 Black women of different faiths, classes, heritages and social backgrounds in there latest novel. Also because the novel earned her the Booker Prize for Literature 2019, which I think was long overdue for a writer of her calibre, I am all the more excited to read it to the end.
2. Ordinary People (2018) by Diana Evans
I cannot help but always hear John Legend's song, Ordinary People, in my mind's ear whenever I think of Diana Evan's third novel of the same name. The title of the novel was actually inspired by the lyrics in John Legend's song. Primarily charting the day-to-day lives of middle-class Black Londoners in the 2000s as they grapple with relationship drama, identity issues and adulting, Diana Evans wants to interrupt the grand narrative and show her readers how multifaceted and mundane the Black (diaspora) experience is. Definitely a must-read!
3. The Terrible (2018) by Yrsa Daley-Ward
This award-winning 'coming of age' memoir has garnered critical acclaim by millennial critics who have placed it among the top five books to read in February during Black History Month in the US. A short scroll through instagram shows that Yrsa Daley-Ward, a self-proclaimed Instagram-Poet, is a rising star on the British poetry scene. The Terrible is a memoir about her struggles with identity and the challenges associated with being a Black model in the UK during her years as a teen and early-twen. I am looking forward to reading this memoir.
4. Afropeans (2019) by Johnny Pitts
"It’s British for now, then, but perhaps in the future “Afropean” will prove a better fit. Pitts, a TV presenter and photographer as well as a writer, sets out to explore “black Europe from the street up”, with the idea of being Afropean as “something of a utopian alternative to the doom and gloom that has surrounded the black image in Europe in recent years”" (The Guardian). Need I say more? Get yourself this crictically acclaimed photographic chronicling of Black Europe by a modern Flâneur.
5. Swing Time (2016) by Zadie Smith
If you are a fan of Zadie Smith, the Swing Time is definitely one for you. The story's plot takes you across many bends and turns and you discover England, parts of NewYork and Senegal in ways like never before. Another piece of fine writing art by an award-winning author.