I’ve come across many books written by Black authors – both indie and traditionally published – and I want to share them during this 2023 Black History Month. (I say, “come across” because usually these books don’t get a big promotional push.)
There are more stories than ones that feature the same old tropes. If you’re interested in exploring some different voices and perspectives, check these out.
Note: There are also wonderful books by non-Black authors that feature an aspect of the Black experience. I’ll be sharing those as well.
The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
The Davenports are one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in a changing United States, their fortune made through the entrepreneurship of William Davenport, a formerly enslaved man who founded the Davenport Carriage Company years ago. Now it’s 1910, and the Davenports live surrounded by servants, crystal chandeliers, and endless parties, finding their way and finding love—even where they’re not supposed to.
There is Olivia, the beautiful elder Davenport daughter, ready to do her duty by getting married . . . until she meets the charismatic civil rights leader Washington DeWight and sparks fly. The younger daughter, Helen, is more interested in fixing cars than falling in love—unless it’s with her sister’s suitor. Amy-Rose, the childhood friend turned maid to the Davenport sisters, dreams of opening her own business—and marrying the one man she could never be with, Olivia and Helen’s brother, John. But Olivia’s best friend, Ruby, also has her sights set on John Davenport, though she can’t seem to keep his interest . . . until family pressure has her scheming to win his heart, just as someone else wins hers.
Inspired by the real-life story of the Patterson family, The Davenports is the tale of four determined and passionate young Black women discovering the courage to steer their own path in life—and love.
Genre: YA, Black & African American Historical Fiction
Buy link: https://amzn.to/3HsMdgk
The Vanishing Woman by Doug Peterson
Ellen Craft escaped from slavery in 1848 by posing as a white man, while her husband William pretended to be her slave. They took trains and steamboats north, escaping in plain view. When other passengers looked at her, they saw only an ailing planter from Georgia. Ellen Craft had vanished.
Ellen’s mother was a slave, but her father was her master, and she had skin as white as his. This enabled her to pose as a white man, in one of the boldest escapes in American history. The Vanishing Woman is based on a true story—an escape driven by the desire for freedom and family. William and Ellen decided they would not have children until they were free.
Their incredible story riveted a nation, and the couple put the Fugitive Slave Law to its first major test, bringing attention to their plight all of the way to the White House. The ultimate irony: This vanishing woman became one of the most visible symbols of freedom in nineteenth-century America. They ran 1,000 miles to freedom and changed the country forever.
Genre: Black & African American Historical Fiction
Buy link: https://amzn.to/3YioV3l
Note: One of the descendants of the Crafts were recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning program. Watch the segment on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aYCBg9e1fUo
A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World Octavia Butler by Lynell George
A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler offers a blueprint for a creative life from the perspective of award-winning science-fiction writer and “MacArthur Genius” Octavia E. Butler. It is a collection of ideas about how to look, listen, breathe-how to be in the world. This book is about the creative process, but not on the page; its canvas is much larger.
Author Lynell George not only engages the world that shaped Octavia E. Butler, she also explores the very specific processes through which Butler shaped herself-her unique process of self-making. It’s about creating a life with what little you have-hand-me-down books, repurposed diaries, journals, stealing time to write in the middle of the night, making a small check stretch-bit by bit by bit. Highly visual and packed with photographs of Butler’s ephemera, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky draws the reader into Butler’s world, creating a sense of unmatched intimacy with the deeply private writer.
Genre: Author Biographies
Buy Link: https://amzn.to/3DCjNz2