October has officially arrived and with it the arrival of Black History Month! We thought we would continue the celebrations by giving you the run down of 11 must-read books by black British authors, so why not indulge yourself this autumn with our selection.

1. The Scholar – Courttia Newland

The scholar

The Scholar tells the story of two cousins, Sean and Cory living on a rough estate with very different pathways in life. However, after an unfortunate incident, their lives are thrown apart and their loyalties are tested. Think of it as Top Boy meets Kidulthood.

2. Noughts and Crosses  – Malorie Blackman


The first in the four part series literally takes the reader on a journey full of prejudice, heartbreak and resillence. Centred on the two main characters, Persephone and Callum, as they battle against their environment and prejudice in order to carve their own way in the world. A modern love story fit for the times.

3 White Teeth – Zadie Smith


This novel centres around the lives of two old war-time friends and their families. It allows us to view the early stages of multiculturalism spanning from the mid 70’s to the early 90’s. This funny novel will have you laughing and frustrated simultaneously.

4. The Famished Road- Ben Okri

Ben Okri famished road

This fantasy novel based in a village in Nigeria revolves around the story of a ‘spirit child’ who fights his very existence to live. “It is more difficult to love than to die”. Definitely one that will stay with you for a while.

5. The Long Song – Andrea Levy


“You do not know me yet but I am the narrator of this work” – This novel chronicles the life of Miss July from her years as slave girl on a plantation, to her emancipation and turbulent times that followed afterwards. The book touches a nerve, but the writer manages to skilfully alternate from quite serious scenes to moments of lightness.

6. Ugly – Constance Briscoe

ugly book

This autobiographical novel centres around the traumatic childhood of the former judge who suffered extreme abuse. Out of this harrowing tale is one of innocence and resilience.

7. Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed

Black mamba boy

Based on the life of the author’s father, this rare tale is about a young boy living in East Africa in the 1930’s. After the unexpected death of his mother in Yemen at the age of 10, he decides to travel back to his native Somalia in search of his absent father. This book gives us a unique glimpse into the effect of the second world war in East Africa.

8.  Refugee Boy- Benjamin Zephaniah 

refugee boy

Alem is a refugee of both Eritrean and Ethiopian descent who escapes to England due to the violent war. Brought to England by his father and left in a hotel alone with a note, he must now forage his way in this new strange world whilst never forgetting what he left behind.

9. Yoruba Girl Dancing – Simi Bedford


At the age of six Remi is sent to live in England by her father in order to gain a British education.  Coming from a large extended family in Nigeria where she was spoilt, she must now use her strength of character to overcome prejudice and navigate this different lonely world.

10. 26a – Diana Evans

'26a' - Diana Evans

Twins Besi and Georgia live with their Nigerian mother and English father in a loft in 26a. The twins must come together in order to overcome the reality of their worlds despite the fantasy they have so long created in order to keep it out. Will they both be strong enough to overcome it?

11. On Snakes & Other Stories – Yrsa Daley Ward

OnSnakesfrontcover (1)-2

This collection of provocative short stories by Yrsa Daley Ward tackles subjects that include mental illness, the church, sexuality and the representation of black women. We spoke to the Lancashire born-writer earlier this year about the topics she tackles in her writing. “When I write about mental health, sexuality or race it comes from that viewpoint because that’s my experience and the experience unfortunately for a black woman is constantly feeling that you have to take your power back.”

This post was originally published on Black Ballad.

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