This (Booker Prize shortlisted) novel is a glorious, multi-layered representation of black women in Britain; a playwright, a trans teenager, a single mum, an investment banker, a pensioner. Each character is written in a nuanced way with lives overlapping, while showing the many ways in which they can and can't win. It is undeniably a feminist novel; almost all them are to some extent inhibited by the patriarchy, some characters more brutally than others. Despite difference in class, sexuality, faith, age Evaristo ultimately celebrates individuality, showing that there is not one 'black british female experience' but many, and that they are complex, glorious, real. Highly recommend.
Defying the norms of the sci-fi genre by exploring themes of race, power, gender and class, Octavia Butler's books feel totally modern.
The protagonist Dana, a strong, believable black woman, gets pulled back in time to save her ancestor who happens to be a white slave owner. As she lands back in 1815 she instantly loses all her rights as a human being as without papers her existence is illegal, so we feel firsthand the injustice and prejudice the author experienced as a black person and as a woman. This is a roller coaster of a read, the writing is so visual I can still picture scenes from it and Octavia Butler explores themes such as empathy, love as political resistance and adapting to change, making this is a must read.
See also Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown: radical self/society help inspired by the philosophies of Octavia Butler.
Published by Headline on 3rd May 2019
The winner of this year's Women's Prize, this is a brilliant and nuanced book about Celestial and Roy, a middle class black couple who have been married for a year when Roy gets wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. The book is about the miscarriage of justice, but the real story is told through the many subtle repercussions of the sentence on their relationship; gender roles, cultural expectations and what it means to be a wife and a husband when you have no freedom or agency. Each chapter alternates between their two perspectives so you experience their different take on the same events. A clever and absorbing examination of love, race, justice and identity.