5 Incredible Books by Black Canadian Authors

Feb 25, 2022

February is Black History Month – a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the many talents, achievements and cultural contributions of Black Canadians. While it’s important to recognize the complex history of Black individuals in Canada, including the overt and systemic racism people of colour continue to face, it’s also important to honour the incredible art and literature Black individuals have contributed to our cultural landscape. We acknowledge and honour this history, but as Black History Month comes to an end, we’d like to celebrate and uplift some outstanding authors.

There are many classic books by Black authors, from Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker to James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and Ralph Ellison. There are also incredible nonfiction works by writers like bell hooks and Audre Lorde. If you’re interested in adding some new titles to your home library this year, consider these fantastic modern works by Black Canadian authors.

Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

Harper Collins: Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter…Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.

Reproduction by Ian Williams

Penguin Random House: A hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented, told with the savvy of a Zadie Smith and with an inventiveness all Ian Williams’ own, Reproduction explores unconventional connections and brilliantly redefines family. Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn’t a matter of blood.

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Arsenal Pulp: An intergenerational saga about three Nigerian women: a novel about food, family, and forgiveness. Butter Honey Pig Bread is a story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Penguin Random House: Eleven-year-old George Washington Black – or Wash – a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen as the manservant of his master’s brother. To his surprise, however, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning, and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

Coach House Books: André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.

More Great Black Authors to Read

While these authors aren’t Canadian, we think you’ll love their work. Here are a few additional titles to check out:

  • The Vanishing Half and The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  • Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

And remember – it’s wonderful to have a diverse reading list throughout the year, not only in February. Thank you for reading and celebrating Black History Month with us.

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