Here are 10 book recommendations provided by Sue-Shane Tsomondo, the owner of Sue’s Stokvel Book Club. Each pick emphasizes diverse, inclusive voices in the Black community and other communities of colour.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Water Dancer is a powerful and factually rooted reimagination of the underground railroad. It is a portrait of slavery that gives the enslaved the dignity of individuality, complexity and beauty.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I love thrillers, and My Sister, the Serial Killer is a brilliant and enjoyable thriller that signals the expansion of African literature into other genres that do not centre the white gaze. I used to read more of them when I was younger, but I have struggled to find thrillers by African authors.
Harvest of Thorns by Shimmer Chinodya
Harvest of Thorns is an insight into the early years of independent Zimbabwe. Chinodya balances love and humour with the painful realities of living in the new Zimbabwe, and it is one of my favourite books partly because it is set in my home country of Zimbabwe and the humour and characters are familiar and authentic.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book feels like a love letter to Black children everywhere: Black children who feel the pressure to be excellent, Black children who grew up with the news of police brutality on the news, etc.
I Write What I Like by Steve Biko
I Write What I Like is an incredible resource for organizers and student activists from one of the greatest organizers against the South African apartheid government. I learnt a great deal about allyship, the role of Christianity in the state and just critically thinking.
One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina
Binyavanga Wainaina knew what it was like to be an eccentric and creative child in an African family, and he writes about it beautifully and honestly. This is a reassuring read for young African creatives.
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
I love documentaries mainly because of the primary source interviews. Barracoon is beautiful in that way as well. Hurston brings humanity and compassion to cultural anthropology that has rarely been seen in this exploitative discipline.
Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of A Yellow Sun is a historical masterpiece and a masterclass on how to tell stories about historical events outside of non-fiction.
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
No one has told the stories of Zimbabwean women better than Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Nervous Conditions is no different and even closer to my heart as Dangarembga draws from her experience from her high school which is also my alma mater.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
The book was first published during the crack epidemic and paints the origin of the modern-day militarization of the police and the lack of social responsibility by the government in a future America. This novel is eerily prophetic, and it has changed how I think of the possibilities of science fiction literature.