February is black history month—an excellent opportunity to celebrate black writers and authors and acknowledge the African American experience. It is essential to consistently seek out minority artists and important, lesser known anecdotes. There is a rich history of black literature in the United States—both old and new black novels and narratives are important to the canon of American literature. Here are 4 books you should strive to be reading this month, and through the rest of the year.
Morrison’s debut novel, Bluest Eye follows sisters Claudia and Freida, along with young Pecola Breedlove, a black girl who prays every day to be beautiful. As she faces adversity throughout her childhood, she wishes deeply to have blue eyes so she can be beautiful. The novel faces the struggles of race, class, and gender with soft, graceful prose and weighty undertones.
Shange’s collection of choreo poems are rooted in black feminism and target the intersectionality between race and sexism within the black female experience. Though written to be performed, the prose is wonderfully energetic and speaks volumes on the page.
A moving story of identity and race, Americanah follows Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who moves to the United States to attend university. Sheis faced with questions about her blackness in both her home country and the United States. Adichie writes with empathy and grace, and her characters are so well described they practically jump off the page.
Thomas’ piece tells the story of a fatal shooting of a black unarmed teenager by a white police officer. Told through the perspective of the deceased’s best friend Starr, the story follows her experience before, during, and after the shooting of her best friend. Traversing the aftermath on both the family and the community, this is a story of racism, friendship and love.