Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.
In today’s post, I’ll be giving another list of books by Black Authors releasing in 2020. Due to the sheer number of books by Black authors releasing this year, this post has been divided into two i.e Part 1 and Part 2. This list will also not include books by Debut authors as it will be redundant when there is already a list of that, so please take this list as a continuation of the first and second existing lists, but with non-debut authors, and it will be numbered as such.
Also due to the unexpected number of newly found books also releasing this year, there will be an extra post at the closing of the blog series to complete and add any outstanding books not found in all the three lists.
(The complete list of Books by Black authors in 2020 begins with the list of books by Black debut authors, you can view those HERE , and another preexisting list with books by non debut Black authors HERE )
44. Legendborn (Legendborn #1) by Tracey Deon
Expected Release Date: September 15, 2020
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her previous life, family memories, or her childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at a local university seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure reveals Bree’s own, unique magic and unlocks a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that she knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, Bree will do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn by becoming one of their initiates. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur and his knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.
(Tracy Deon is actually a debut author but I missed her book in the first list. I will be moving Legendborn to the initial list when the series is done)
45. Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola
Expected Release Date: July 9, 2020
Discover love from times long ago…
Join Bolu Babalola as she retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology in this stunning collection. From the homoromantic Greek myths, to magical Nigerian folktales, to the ancient stories of South Asia, Bolu brings new life to tales that truly show the vibrance and colours of love around the world.
The anthology is a step towards decolonising tropes of love, and celebrates in the wildly beautiful and astonishingly diverse tales of romance and desire that already exist in so many cultures and communities.
Get lost in these mystical worlds and you will soon realise that humanity – like love – comes in technicolour.
(Bolu Babalola is a debut author. Love In Colour will be moved to the Debut Author’s list at the end of the series)
46. The Infinite (Leap Cycle) by Patience Agbabi
Genre: Science Fiction
Expected Release Date: April 2, 2020
FIGHT CRIME, ACROSS TIME!
‘Vivid, funny, exciting and inventive’ PHILIP PULLMAN
‘Has a magic all of its own’ BERNARDINE EVARISTO
‘What an inspiration. The future just got so much better’ BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
Leaplings, children born on the 29th of February, are very rare. Rarer still are Leaplings with The Gift – the ability to leap through time. Elle Bíbi-Imbelé Ifíè has The Gift, but she’s never used it. Until now.
On her twelfth birthday, Elle and her best friend Big Ben travel to the Time Squad Centre in 2048. Elle has received a mysterious warning from the future. Other Leaplings are disappearing in time – and not everyone at the centre can be trusted.
Soon Elle’s adventure becomes more than a race through time. It’s a race against time. She must fight to save the world as she knows it – before it ceases to exist . . .
47. The Secret Women by Sheila Williams
Expected Release Date: June 9, 2020
The author of Dancing on the Edge of the Roof, now a Netflix film starring Alfre Woodard, returns with a riveting, emotionally rich, novel that explores the complex relationship between mothers and daughters in a fresh, vibrant way—a stunning page-turner for fans of Terry McMillan, Tayari Jones, and Kimberla Lawson Roby.
Elise Armstrong, Carmen Bradshaw, and DeeDee Davis meet in a yoga class. Though vastly different, these women discover they all have one thing in common: their mothers have recently passed away. Becoming fast friends, the trio make a pact to help each other sort through the belongings their mothers’ left behind. But when they find old letters and diaries, Elise, Carmen, and DeeDee are astonished to learn that each of their mothers hid secrets—secrets that will transform their own lives.
Meeting each month over margaritas, the trio share laughter, advice, and support. As they help each other overcome challenges and celebrate successes, Elise, Carmen, and DeeDee gain not only a better understanding of the women their mothers were, but of themselves. They also come to realize they have what their mothers needed most but did not have during difficult times—other women they could trust.
Filled with poignant life lessons, The Secret Women pays tribute to the power of friendship and family and the bonds that tie us together. Beautiful, full of spirit and heart, it is a thoughtful and ultimately uplifting story of unconditional love.
48. If I Had Two Wings: Stories by Randall Keenan
Expected Release Date: August 4, 2020
When Randall Kenan’s first collection was published, the New York Times called it “nothing short of a wonder-book.” Now, with inventiveness seasoned by maturity and shot through with humor, Kenan riffs on appetites of all kinds, on the eerie persistence of history, on unstoppable losses and unexpected salvations.
In Kenan’s fictional territory of Tims Creek, North Carolina, an old man rages in his nursing home, a parson beats up an adulterer, a rich man is haunted by a hog, and an elderly woman turns unwitting miracle worker. A retired plumber travels to Manhattan, where Billy Idol sweeps him into his entourage. An architect who lost his famous lover to AIDS reconnects with a high school fling. Howard Hughes seeks out the woman who once cooked him butter beans.
A rich chorus of voices and visions, dreams and prophecies, marked by physicality and spirit, If I Had Two Wings is a glory.
49. The Coyotes of Carthage by Steven Wright
Expected Date of Publication: April 14, 2020
Toussaint Andre Ross has one more shot. Despite being a successful African-American political consultant, his aggressive tactics have tarnished his firm’s reputation. Now his boss and mentor Mrs. Fitz, who plucked him from juvenile incarceration and shepherded his career, is exiling him to the boondocks of South Carolina with $250,000 of dark money to introduce a ballot initiative on behalf of a mining company. The goal: to manipulate the locals into voting in favor of the sale of pristine public land to the highest bidder.
Dre arrives in God-fearing, flag-waving Carthage County, an area America’s New Economy has left behind, with only Mrs. Fitz’s well-meaning yet naïve grandson Brendan on his “team.” A local is needed as a strawman to collect signatures, and Dre hires blue-collar couple, oafish Tyler Lee and his pious wife Chalene, to act as the initiative’s public face.
Under Dre’s cynical direction, a land grab is disguised as a righteous fight for faith and liberty. As lines are crossed and lives ruined, Dre’s increasingly cutthroat campaign threatens the last remnants of his own humanity and the very soul of Carthage County.
A piercing portrait of our fragile democracy and one man’s unraveling, THE COYOTES OF CARTHAGE may very well be the political novel of our times.
[Cover to be revealed]
50. We’re Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza
Expected Date of Publication: _2020
Simon & Schuster senior editor Christine Pride struck a six-figure North American rights agreement with William Morrow to pen two novels, cowritten with author Jo Piazza (How to Be Married). The first book, We Are Not Like Them, is, Morrow said, “in the vein of Jodi Picoult” and follows the enduring friendship between two women—a successful African-American TV journalist and a working-class white woman married to a cop. Alexanda Machinist at ICM Partners represented the authors.
51. Telephone by Percival Everett
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Expected Release Date: May 5, 2020
Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area—the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon—he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches.
After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, she has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter’s slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he’s ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission.
A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.
[Cover to be revealed]
52. Seeds of Cain by Agnes Gomillion
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Expected Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Return to the startlingly original world of The Record Keeper in this stunning sequel. Join Arika Cobane as she continues her fight for freedom.
53. The Perceptionist by Mo’Reese Madu
Expect Release Date: August 18, 2020
Five Points Village is one of the last historic black communities left in South Carolina. But it’s quickly on the decline, as its residents have been plagued for years with drug trafficking, health disparities, business failures, and gentrification; among many other issues that affect the masses of Black America.
Fortunately, when all hope seems lost, a mysterious woman named Asè has a supernatural way of showing up in people’s lives at just the right time. An old woman with a youthful appearance, rocking locks, hand-made African dresses and jewelry, toting a peculiar leather duffel bag, Asè is a breath of fresh air with divine foresight. In her various interactions, she grants the people of Five Points with the priceless gift of discernment—helping them see the answers to all of their problems are hidden beneath their wounds.
The Perceptionist speaks to the heart in all black folks yearning to understand why we continually suffer and what we can do overcome our plight. Each chapter tackles a different obstacle with simple empowering solutions. Your chance to pivot and transform your life awaits you in the cultural wisdom and uplifting story of a woman named Asè.
[Cover to be Revealed]
54. Fat Time: Stories by Jeffery Renard Allen
Expected Release Date: 2020
FAT TIME is the powerful new collection from PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Jeffery Renard Allen. Encompassing ten short stories, the collection is loosely linked around African notions of time and place, along with African views of space, cosmology, and metaphysics. The stories are set in invented locations in both Africa and America and play out over a continuum of time
55. Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Expected Release Date: September 8, 2020
The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.
Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.
Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.
Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will leave you aching for the world it burns into being.
56. Her Twin Baby Secret by Therese Beharie
by Therese Beharie
Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Could her biggest competition… become her babies’ father?
Alexa Moore is the definition of empowered and independent. She runs her own successful business and she’s decided to start the family she’s longed-for—by herself! But after business rival Benjamin Foster comes to her rescue and pretends to be her boyfriend for a night, their earth-shattering kiss sparks Alexa’s desire to share much more with him… can she find her Happily-Ever-After with this unexpected love?
From Harlequin Romance: Be swept away by glamorous and heartfelt love stories.
“…this is my favourite book by this author. It made me laugh out loud several times…this was well-written and introspective with convincing, 3 dimensional characters. Highly recommended and chuckle-worthy.”
—Goodreads on Island Fling with the Tycoon
“All in all, From Heiress to Mom is a delightful, funny, sweet, excellently paced, and very real book. You can tell that a lot of love and care has been put into this book, and if I’m honest, that’s really refreshing for a romance novel.”
57. Pale by Edward A. Farmer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Expected Release Date: May 19, 2020
“Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”
The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.
The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest and the appearance of Jesse and Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed and destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.
Bernice walks the fine line between emissary and accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, and no one will come out unscathed.
With a dazzling voice and rich emotional tension, Pale explores the ties that bind and how quickly humanity can fade and return us to primal ways.
58. Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Baron
by Rena Baron
Expected Release Date: May 5, 2020
After her father goes missing, 12-year-old Maya uncovers that he is the keeper of the gateway between our world and The Dark. To find her father, she’ll need to unlock her own powers and fight a horde of creatures set on starting a war. Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson set on the south side of Chicago.
59. Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall
Genre: Historical Fiction, Music
Expected Release Date: August 18, 2020
An enthralling literary tour-de-force that pays tribute to Detroit’s legendary neighborhood, a mecca for jazz, sports, and politics, Black Bottom Saints is a powerful blend of fact and imagination reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow’s classic novel Ragtime and Marlon James’ Man Booker Award-winning masterpiece, A Brief History of Seven Killings.
From the Great Depression through the post-World War II years, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, has been the pulse of Detroit’s famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist for the city’s African-American newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, he is also the emcee of one of the hottest night clubs, where he’s rubbed elbows with the legendary black artists of the era, including Ethel Waters, Billy Eckstein, and Count Basie. Ziggy is also the founder and dean of the Ziggy Johnson School of Theater. But now the doyen of Black Bottom is ready to hang up his many dapper hats.
As he lays dying in the black-owned-and-operated Kirkwood Hospital, Ziggy reflects on his life, the community that was the center of his world, and the remarkable people who helped shape it.
Inspired by the Catholic Saints Day Books, Ziggy curates his own list of Black Bottom’s venerable “52 Saints.” Among them are a vulnerable Dinah Washington, a defiant Joe Louis, and a raucous Bricktop. Randall balances the stories of these larger-than-life “Saints” with local heroes who became household names, enthralling men and women whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City’s Harlem.
Accompanying these “tributes” are thoughtfully paired cocktails—special drinks that capture the essence of each of Ziggy’s saints—libations as strong and satisfying as Alice Randall’s wholly original view of a place and time unlike any other.
60. Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Following the fate of one family over the course of two decades in Nigeria, this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency, love, and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life.
“I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin. To have no memory of ever being alone.”
Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife, and the family, facing poverty, becomes drawn into the New Church, an institution led by a charismatic pastor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth.
Soon Bibike and Ariyike’s father wagers the family home on a “sure bet” that evaporates like smoke. As their parents’ marriage collapses in the aftermath of this gamble, the twin sisters and their two younger siblings, Andrew and Peter, are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother. Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them, the twins’ paths diverge once the household shatters. Each girl is left to locate, guard, and hone her own fragile source of power.
Written with astonishing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate, Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday takes us into the chaotic heart of family life, tracing a line from the euphoria of kinship to the devastation of estrangement. In the process, it joyfully tells a tale of grace and connection in the midst of daily oppression and the constant incursions of an unremitting patriarchy. This is a novel about two young women slowly finding, over twenty years, in a place rife with hypocrisy but also endless life and love, their own distinct methods of resistance and paths to independence.
(Tola Rotimi Abraham is a debut author. Black Sunday will be moved to the Debut Author list at the end of the blog series)
61. The Fugitivities by Jesse McCarthy
Expected Release Date: May 19, 2020
After a difficult first year teaching at a Brooklyn public high school, Jonah Winters decides to leave his job to vagabond through South America with his friend Octavio. Before he departs, Jonah has a troubled night of revelry and self-destruction, only to be rescued from arrest by former basketball star Nathaniel Archimbald who brings him back to his Bronx home.
While recovering from his hangover, Jonah converses with Nathaniel about former lives and loves. The son of American expats, Jonah recalls living a cushy post-undergraduate life in Paris working as an apprentice film projectionist, a one-time girlfriend that still has his heart, and the decision to teach in Brooklyn.
Nathaniel tells Jonah that he too has lived in Paris, where he resumed the studies he had abandoned to play basketball professionally. There he fell in love with a Parisian graduate student named Laura Pertrossian, who abruptly left not only him, but her entire life for a South American destination unknown. Nathaniel, in his grief, returned him to coach basketball for kids living in low-income neighborhoods.
When he is unable to persuade Jonah to remain a teacher, Nathaniel hands him a letter to give to Laura were he to find her during his travels. Jonah and Octavio depart for Rio de Janeiro where Jonah discovers how different it is to be a black North American in South America. When Octavio falls in love with a Brazilian art student, Jonah finds himself making his way down the Southern Cone alone where a chance encounter will change the way he sees everything.
62. Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone
Genre: Science Fiction
Expected Release Date: May 5, 2020
From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes an all-new upper middle grade series based on one of the Marvel Universe’s break-out characters— Shuri, from Black Panther!
An original, upper-middle-grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone. Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.
For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t save them. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.
63. Stateway’s Garden: Stories by Jasmon Drain
Publication Date: January 2020
Before being torn down in 2007, the Stateway Gardens public housing projects on Chicago’s South Side were ridden with deprivation and crime. But for some, like Tracy, the shy, intelligent young boy at the center of this enthralling collection of linked stories, they are simply home. Set in the mid-1980s and taking readers up to the point of the destruction of the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects—a set of buildings similar in design to Stateway Gardens to the south—this collection gives an intimate look at the hopes, dreams, failures, and fortunes of a group of people growing up with the deck always stacked against them. Through Jasmon Drain’s sensitive and often playful prose, we see another side of what we have come to know as “the projects.”
Stateway’s Garden is a coming-of-age story told in short stories, through the lens of a childhood made rough by the crush of poverty and violence, with the crack epidemic a looming specter ahead. And yet, through the experiences and ambitions of Tracy and other young characters, Drain reveals a vibrant community that creates its own ecosystem, all set in a series of massive, seemingly soulless concrete buildings. Not shying away from the darkness of life for his characters, Drain shows the full complexity of their human experiences.
Exquisitely detailed and novelistic in scope, this collection of stories will linger in your mind long after you have turned the final page.
64.Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins
Expected Release Date: May 12, 2020
“One of the smartest young writers of her generation.”—Book Riot
From the acclaimed cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing—a writer whom Roxane Gay has hailed as “a force to be reckoned with”—comes this powerful story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.
Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California.
Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history.
Incisive and illuminating, Wandering in Strange Lands is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.
65. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston, Genevieve West & Tayari Jones
Genre: Historical Fiction
Category: Adult, Anthology
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
From “one of the greatest writers of our time” (Toni Morrison)—the author of Barracoon and Their Eyes Were Watching God—a collection of remarkable stories, including eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance tales now available to a wide audience for the first time.
Newsweek’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020, Forbes.com’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020, Publishers Weekly’s Notable Titles
In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston—the sole black student at the college—was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.” During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.
66. Ikenga by Nnedi Okarafor
Expected Release Date: August 18, 2020
Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a mystical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?
67. Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Expected Release Date: March 5, 2020
From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, comes a wise and witty novel about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .45 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.
Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.
68. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
“Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether.”—Marlon James
Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.
Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down.