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    FSA’s Black History Month Reading List

    FSA’s Black History Month Reading List

    In 2023, FSA staff solicited reading suggestions to honour Black Excellence Day and Black History Month. Below is a book list that’s come from your suggestions, which we will update as more arrive in our inbox. Thanks for all of your engagement and keep those suggestions coming!

    • Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Classic novel exploring the colonial destruction of social life in Africa.
    • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Americanah. Americanah tells the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who immigrates to the United States to attend university. The novel traces Ifemelu’s life in both countries, threaded by her love story with high school classmate Obinze.
    • Allen, Jayne. Black Girls Must Die Exhausted. This novel explores Black womanhood and the bonds of friendship amid extremely trying circumstances.
    • Angelou, Maya. And Still I Rise. Poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist, And Still I Rise is a moving collection of Angelou’s poetry.
    • Baldwin, James. Nothing Personal. From the famed essayist, novelist, and playwright, Baldwin detailed in the 1950s and 1960s much of what contemporary authors are still unpacking about race in North America. If you haven’t watched the 2016 documentary about Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, add it to your list.
    • Bennett, Brit. The Vanishing Half. As twin sisters grow apart, so do their identities and communities. Bennett’s novel debuted at number one on the New York Times Bestseller List.
    • Blaine, Cicely Belle. Burning Sugar. Blaine is a queer, Black poet, artist, community organizer, and founder of Bakau Consulting right here in the lower mainland. This book of poetry explores their Black identity and history.
    • Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. A post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel from one of the best the genre has produced–dealing with climate change, income inequality, and corruption.
    • Chariandy, David. Brother. This book is a Canada Reads finalist from 2019, set in Scarborough in the 1990s. Brother takes us through the universal experience of loss through a coming of age story of two brothers of Trinidadian origin. Chariandy is a professor of contemporary literature at SFU, and specializes in Black, Caribbean, and Canadian fiction.
    • Christmas, Jillian. The Gospel of Breaking. Christmas is a Vancouver-based page and performance poet who focuses on anti-colonial narratives, family, heritage, and identity. Gospel explores on Jillian’s family, identity, and community.
    • Compton, Wayde. After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region and The Outer Harbour. Compton is Black Canadian writer/poet, DJ, and historian. After Canaan was shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award and The Outer Harbour won in 2015.
    • Davis, Angela. Women, Race and Class and Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire. Professor Davis is an academic, author, activist, and writer on racial justice, women’s rights, and criminal justice reform. A frequent target of state and reactionary repression, Davis remains a towering figure of intellectual and political life in the United States.
    • Delaney, Samuel R. The Fall of the Towers Trilogy. The award winning sci-fi series steeped in metaphysics provides an incredibly detailed political picture of war and power by a funny, ingenious writer.
    • Diverlus, Rodney, Hudson, Sandy and Ware, Cyrus Marcus, Eds. Until We Are Free. This book busts myths of Canadian politeness and niceness, myths that prevent Canadians from properly fulfilling the national idea of multiculturalism and challenging systemic racism, including the everyday assaults on black and brown people.
    • Douglas, Stan. Stan Douglas: Every Building on 100 West Hastings. From one of Canada’s premier contemporary artists, this book is based on a monumental digital print that Douglas made of West Hastings’ 100 block.
    • Du Bois, W.E.B. Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860–1880. Black Reconstruction forces the reader to rethink commonly held ideas regarding the period of American reconstruction and Black success within it.
    • Du Bois, W.E.B. John Brown. Biography of one of the most important abolitionists in American history.
    • Eddo-Lodg, Reni. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Critique of British politics wherein discussions of race are led by people unaffected by racial discrimination.
    • Evaristo, Bernardine. Girl, Woman, Other. The story follows the lives of each of 12 principal and intertwined characters as they navigate the world. Some of the themes explored in the characters’ lives are racism, feminism, politics, patriarchy, success, relationships, gender, and sexuality.
    • Ekwuyasi. Francesca, Butter Honey Pig Bread. This Canadian novel tells the story of three women, Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye, and takes place over three continents (Nigeria, England and Canada).
    • Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Among the most important psychoanalysts and post-colonial theorists of the twentieth century, Fanon understands the world of anti-blackness as one of simultaneous white supremacy building.
    • Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. More directly engaged with day-to-day colonial reality than the previous White Masks, Wretched postulates a psychological need to overcome colonialism by necessary means.
    • hooks, bell. Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism. A wide ranging history of the present, hooks examines the multiple oppressive positions that attempt to subjugate black women.
    • James, C.L.R. Beyond a Boundary. Forcing the reader to explore the game of cricket beyond its game play, James begins his book: “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”
    • James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. The definitive account of the Haitian Revolution, the only successful revolution of enslaved peoples in world history.
    • James, Marlon.  A Brief History of Seven Killings. “It’s like a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner,” writes the New York Times. 
    • Jones, El. Abolitionist Intimacies. The book examines the movement to abolish prisons through the Black feminist principles of care and collectivity. Professor Jones is spoken word poet, educator, journalist, and a community activist living in African Nova Scotia. She held the Nancy’s Chair of Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and was the City of Halifax’s fifth Poet Laureate.
    • Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist. One of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist scholars, Kendi’s best-selling book is an essential read for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
    • Knight, Chelene. Dear Current Occupant. Knight was a managing editor at Room magazine, and the previous festival director for the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver. She has also worked as a professor of poetry at the University of Toronto and founded of her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative. Dear Current Occupant is a memoir which won the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2018.
    • Knight, Chelene. Junie. A young girl in Vancouver’s historically Black neighbourhood Hogan’s Alley, later demolished by the city, enters adulthood.
    • Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy. Autobiography of growing up in poverty under the apartheid regime in South Africa.
    • Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Morrison is among the most celebrated authors in the world and the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
    • Nicholson, Cecily. Wayside Sang. This book of poetry is a “hypnotic suite of long poems” which explores displacement, identity and North American roadways through the lens of Black diasporas. It won the Governor General’s Award in 2019. Nicholson lives in Burnaby.
    • Obama, Michelle. Becoming. The memoir of First Lady Michelle Obama, from her youth through her time in the White House.
    • Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want to Talk About Race. This best-seller is a very readable primer for those wishing to have honest conversations about race, and about how racism infects every aspect of North American life.
    • Pride, Christine, and Piazza, Jo. We are not like them. A moving novel told amid personal and social crises, We are not like them presents two different perspectives, that of one Black woman and one white woman, encountering and contending with the same event.
    • Richardson, Jael. Gutter Child: A Novel. From author, broadcaster, the and founder and artistic director of FOLD (the Festival of Literary Diversity), Gutter Child is a dystopian look at Black identity and belonging.
    • Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Landmark text of post-colonial history and theory. Europe, Rodney argues, destroyed independent forms of development in Africa in order to enrich the northern continent while impoverishing the latter.
    • Sankara, Thomas. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987. Under Sankara’s revolutionary leadership, Burkina Faso carry out literacy and immunization drives, agrarian, housing, and land reforms, fought against the oppression of women, and sought to free itself from Western exploitation.
    • West, Cornel. The Cornel West Reader. A collection of essays from among the most important public intellectuals of the past few decades. Never shying away from moral questions of what is right and just, West’s work provides a key to understanding an array or socio-economic ills infecting America.
    • Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. Winner of the NAACP Image Award, Coretta Scott King Award, and National Book Award Brown Girl Dreaming is a collection of poetry covering the author’s upbringing in postwar America.

    Hyperlinks lead to BCIT Library listings

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