If your New Year’s reading resolution is to decolonize your bookshelf, the editors of BookPage are here to help build your TBR. Here are 15 excellent books by black authors to look forward to in 2020, with recommendations based on books from 2019 that you may have already read and loved.
Angie Kim’s and Kiley Reid’s socially conscious novels both know a thing or two about asking big questions, building to a major showdown and keeping it all absolutely thrilling.
This inspiring story of the life of Mary Walker, who was dubbed “the oldest student” when she learned to read well past the age of 100, is a moving testament to the power of reading and the written word.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington is a page-turning mystery, heartwarming family story and exploration of racial injustice in the criminal justice system all rolled into one appealing package.
For readers who love propulsive, creepy, emotionally dynamic novels with a dash of the supernatural, Tochi Onyebuchi’s powerful work of speculative fiction finds hope and magic within a black family as they stand against violence and racism.
Like Alyssa Cole, Mia Sosa writes smart and funny rom coms that address contemporary issues while still being adorable and funny.
Just as Sally Rooney’s second novel perfectly captures the intimacies of a young relationship, Brandon Taylor’s provocative debut tests the boundaries put in place by a queer, black graduate student.
If you liked Lovely War by Julie Berry, you’ll love The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith.
Set against the backdrop the final days of World War II, The Blossom and the Firefly tells the story of two star-crossed teens, a kamikaze pilot and the survivor of a bombing raid, who will live a lifetime in just eight days.
Just as No Visible Bruises shone a light on domestic violence’s pervasive impact on the lives of women everywhere, Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism highlights other neglected feminist issues—like food insecurity, medical care and access to education—while offering an energizing critique of the feminist movement’s preference for white women.
The siblings in Ann Patchett’s 2019 novel have a bond unlike any other, and it keeps them together even as they must unfurl a dark past. Maisy Card’s debut will appeal strongly to lovers of family sagas, as a Jamaican-born man reveals his greatest secret to his unsuspecting family.
It’s easy to fall for Elizabeth Strout’s vivid, utterly human characters—so much so that readers demanded (and received!) a sequel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. The fresh but familiar players in James McBride’s latest novel, set in 1960s Brooklyn, also have that kind of power. You’ll love them, you’ll empathize with them, you’ll laugh with them—and oh, how you’ll miss them when the book is done.
If you liked I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott, you’ll love Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby (coming March 31).
Mary Laura Philpott is an essayist with heart and humor, and Samantha Irby’s latest collection resonates with the same settling-in, finding-your-place-amid-supposed-domestic-bliss energy—except raunchier. Samantha Irby is definitely way raunchier.
If you liked The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, you’ll love Conjure Women by Afia Atakora (coming April 7).
Transportive historical tales like Yangsze Choo’s novel sweep us away with luscious details and gorgeously rendered relationships. With her first novel, set around the Civil War, Afia Atakora shows that she clearly understands the power of rich prose and tantalizing mystery.
If you liked Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, you’ll love I Don’t Want to Die Poor by Michael Arceneaux (coming April 7).
Like Jia Tolentino’s collection of smart, topical and expectation-defying essays, I Don’t Want to Die Poor takes a totally fresh look at the economic reality of millennials who are trying to follow their dreams while strapped with student debt. Michael Arceneaux’s book is painfully relevant yet totally delightful—a sly spoonful of sugar for this particular swallow of medicine.
If you liked Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, you’ll love Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins (coming May 12).
Dani Shapiro dug deep into her family’s furtive past in Inheritance. In Wandering in Strange Lands, Morgan Jerkins goes on a similarly illuminating historical voyage, unearthing familial history from the early 18th century through the Great Migration of black Americans in the first half of the 20th century, and forever changing her understanding of where she came from.
If you liked Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur, you’ll love Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (coming July 28).
Loss, secrets and unfathomable betrayal. Adrienne Brodeur wrote one of 2019’s most heart-rending memoirs, and in 2020, poet Natasha Trethewey’s debut memoir will appeal to lovers of stories about resilient women who emerge from family trauma with strength and deep creative insights.