In recognizing Black History Month, here is a list of four rising Black authors who have recently released their debut books. I recommend adding these to your reading list for 2021 and maybe even picking one up to read this month.
Regina Porter’s The Travelers
Regina Porter’s The Travelers is a novel looking at family and race relations between two families over the course of 50 years. With a background as a playwright, Porter published this, her debut novel, in 2020. The novel was named one of the best books of the year by Esquire and was a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel.
Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age
Published in late 2019, Kiley Reid’s debut novel Such a Fun Age explores themes of what it means to be family, the complex reality of adulthood, race, and privilege. When Emira Tucker is accused of kidnapping the 2-year-old she is babysitting, both Emira and the girl’s mother’s lives are turned upsidedown. Such a Fun Age was the winner of the African American Literacy Award and a finalist for many other awards.
Robert Jones Jr.’s The Prophets
Robert Jones Jr. has written for many publications, although The Prophets is his debut novel. The Prophets is a piece of historical fiction following two young men on a Deep South plantation. Jones’s novel has received many accolations thus far including The New York Times Book Review‘s Books to Watch for in January and one of O, the Oprah Magazine’s 32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape in 2021.
Nadia Owusu’s Aftershocks
Nadia Owusu’s first memoir, Aftershocks, is a mix of memoir and cultural history, as Owusu switches between talking of her childhood growing up to a daughter of a United Nations official and of her adult life in New York. Aftershocks explores themes of identity, the meaning of home, and emotional trauma. Owusu’s book was selected as one of 13 new books to watch for in January 2021 by the New York Times, one of Oprah.com’s 55 most anticipated books of 2021, and is the current Read with the Other Jenna book club pick for February.
Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.