#BlackLivesMatter: A (Very Partial) Reading List

The literary canon is a problematic concept; the texts that are often – usually – referred to as representing the most exemplary, interesting, or illuminating of historical and contemporary literature are typically written by white writers (and that’s not even to mention their gender or sexuality). The canon, as it is usually presented on schools’ and universities’ curricula, on ‘Best Of’ lists, and in the ‘Classics’ sections of bookshops, is a canon that represents the ongoing silencing of other voices; a canon does not speak to the lived reality of many readers and their ancestors. In the context of the protests against the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police offer in May 2020, and the work being done by the global Black Lives Matter movement, then, here is a short selection of texts by Black writers, a list that might act as a springboard for readers to begin to explore beyond the shores of the traditional Western canon.

FICTION

fiction

Kathleen Collins, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? (2016)
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017)
Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)
James Baldwin, Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953)

POETRY

poetry

Inua Ellems, The Wire-Headed Heathen (2015)
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)
Kayo Chingonyi, Kumukanda (2017)
Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars (2011)
Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead (2017)

DRAMA

script

Winsome Pinnock, One Under (2005)
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Elmina’s Kitchen (2003)
Bola Agbaje, Gone Too Far! (2008)
debbie tucker green, Second Coming (2014)
Roy Williams, Sucker Punch (2010)

NONFICTION

Non-Fiction

bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman (1981)
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1952)
Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (2017)
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015)
Kimberlé Crenshaw, On Intersectionality (2021)

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