National Book Month: Here Are Five Black Authors You Should Know

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It's National Book Month -- a month-long celebration that focuses on the importance of reading, writing and literature. October 1st through October 31st is a time to honor the country’s best books and authors. Often times, when it comes to highlighting great wordsmith's of the nation, Black authors are either left out of the conversation, or reduced to a select few of popular writers, neglecting the upcoming voices in literature.

One Twitter user pointed out:

"WE need MORE Black & Asian classic and contemporary literature in our schools and prominently positioned in book shops (and not hidden at the back)."

A 2017 report showed that of 400 authors named as writers of literature by 2,000 people (by the Royal Society of Literature), only 7% of them were from Black, Asian and minority backgrounds. RSL chair Lisa Appignanesi says readers are hungrier now more than ever for works from diverse authors. She said in a statement:

"Given what readers are saying about literature and the value they place on reading a different point of view to their own, there seems to be an open door for publishers to push against with books that are written by more diverse writers."

In honor of National Book Month, check out these dope Black Authors that you should know.

Tomi Adeyemi

Notable Works: "Children of Blood and Bone" series

The 28-year old, who was recently inducted into Hinsdale Central High School Hall Of Fame, is a Nigerian-American novelist and creative writing coach, known for blending the worlds of African Mythology and fantasy, while addressing real-life themes, such as genocide, colorism and sexism.

Her fantasy series, "Children of Blood and Bone," is now being made into a movie by Lucas Films. In 2020, Adeyemi was named one of "TIME's100 Most Influential People of 2020" in the "Pioneers" category.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Notable Works: "Americanah" & "We Should All Be Feminist"

The 44-year old Nigerian writer, known for her infamous TED Talk The Danger Of A Single Story (which has garnered over 28 million views) has been described in The Times Literary Supplement as "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature."

The novelist has snagged a MacAuthor Fellowship Award and is known as one of the wealthiest and most successful authors in Nigeria.

Kacen Callender

Notable Works: "Hurricane Child"

The 32-year old Stonewall Book Award winner's work often centers around queer, trans and Black protagonists learning to navigate the world. In an interview with NPR, Callender says they want their character to have space to learn and grow, but also to have fun and just be --- and opportunity that's "rarely afforded to kids who aren't white." Their novel Queen Of The Conquered won the World Fantasy Award in 2020, while their book King and Dragonflies won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s/Middle Grade.

Saeed Jones

Notable Works: "How We Fight for Our Lives"

The 35-year old Memphis native's works usually incorporates mythology and examines topics such as race, desire, power, and grief. His debut collection Prelude to Bruise was named a 2014 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, while his follow-up memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives won the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction in 2019.

The author spoke about his coming-of-age memoir to NPR, sharing:

"We're all struggling. I want you to experience what's going on in my book and think about it in relation to your own life, whether that's because you're like, 'Oh this is totally different!' Or because you're like, 'Hmm. This is really familiar.' I think that's a useful way of thinking about memoir."

Akwaeke Emezi

Notable Works: Freshwater

The Nigerian Igbo and Tamil writer has been nominated for almost every literary award possible, including the Pen/Hemmingway Award, National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the Nommo Award, which she took home in 2019. That same year, her novel, Freshwater was nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction, marking the first time a non-binary transgender author has been nominated for the prize.

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