10 'Woke' Works Of Literature You Need To Add To Your Reading List This Year

The new voices that are finally being heard in the publishing industry

MOST POPULAR

As we take to the streets to stand in solidarity with people from all over the world we notice, now more than ever, that diverse voices are missing from the books we read.

This is very much due to the fact that the people responsible for publishing literature are coming from a monocultural perspective.

I recently attended a Diversity Panel hosted by writer and activist Nikesh Shukla, who declared it was to be the last diversity panel to be held by the publishing industry. It was the last because we are tired of discussing why people of colour should be in publishing both in the office, and on the page.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The event was emotional, fierce and overall a great success and we all left feeling like there was work to be done and we were tooled up to do it.

But while we're getting on with it, it's important to reflect on the positives of the publishing industry and how people of colour are making a mark in books.

Here are my pick of the books we should be reading now that reflect publishing's fresh voices and the stories to look forward to over the next year:

'Speak Gigantular' by Irenosen Okojie (Jacaranda Books, September 2016)

This is an incredible debut short story collection published by celebrated indie publisher, Jacaranda Books.

Human experience is the cornerstone of this collection and Irenosen's dark wit tinged with sci-fi edges is as distinctive as it is bold.

'Little Black Book' by Otegha Uwagba (Fourth Estate, June 2017)

According to Forbes, black women are the fastest group of entrepreneurs in the US.

Encompassing issues ranging from money management to brand building this book, written by business wunderkind Otega Uwagba who also founded the community Women Who, is a must-read guide for all creative women looking to navigate the world of work.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

'Kumukanda' by Kayombo Chingonyi (Chatto, June 2017)

This powerful collection of poems will drop in June. In his debut collection Kayombo Chingonyi explores a broad brush stroke of subjects from race to masculinity, from hip-hop to migration.

These poems are essential and urgent and shine a light on British culture in an unique and spellbinding way.

'A History of Hair' by Emma Dabiri (Penguin, Summer 2018)

With European hair salons charging big bucks for afro hair styles while playing Solange's hit single, 'Don't Touch My Hair', the need for a book that celebrates the history of African hair has never been more necessary.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

In this book cultural historian Emma Dabiri will delve into the history, politics, appropriation and celebration of Afro hair through essays on pictures, people and places.

'The One Who Wrote Destiny' by Nikesh Shukla (Atlantic, Summer 2018)

In this very moving, expansive and deeply personal novel, Nikesh Shukla observes in part his own family history.

The novel charts three generations from the1960s to the present day and crosses continents from Africa to Europe to America.

'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race' by Reni Eddo Lodge (Bloomsbury, June 2017)

Writer and activist Reni Eddo-Lodge has taken a bold step to scrutinize the issues of discussing race when people of colour are marginalised by society.

It's deep, it's important and I suggest taking a deep breath, delving in and I promise you will come up for air woke and better equipped to understand the underlying issues of race in our society.

'Slay in Your Lane' by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene (4th Estate, Summer 2018)

On reading the proposal for this book I have been beyond excited for a bible that celebrates the role of powerful Black British women and examines how we climbed the ladder and broke through the glass ceiling to achieve success in a variety of areas and how you can too.

'We Speak of Nothing' by Olumide Popoola (Cassava Republic, July 2017)

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

We are catapulted into the lives of best friends Karl and Abu, who are both 17 and live near King's Cross. It's 2011 and racial tensions are set to explode across London.

Abu is infatuated with his gorgeous classmate Nalini but dares not speak to her.

Meanwhile, Karl is the target of the local 'wannabe' thugs just for being different.

This smart novel with electric prose tells us what it means to be young, black and queer in London.

'White Tears' by Hari Kunzru (Penguin UK, April 2017)

Hari Kunzru's latest tome has verve and grit and encapsulates themes of love, lost innocence and historical guilt.

The protagonists of this ghost story are young, ambitious musicians Seth and Carter.

They're from different backgrounds - Seth is introverted and Carter, heir to a family fortune - but they share an obsession with music which draws them into a dark underworld, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past.

'Elephant' by Siana Bangura (Haus of Liberated Reading, May 2016)

Siana Bangura is an irrepressible writer and poet hailing from South East London via Freetown, Sierra Leone.

In this assured self-published debut all aspects of urban life and Black girlhood are explored in a powerful and gripping collection.

More from ELLE UK: