I was wondering whether to work, not work, or trick-myself-into-working-through-pretending-it’s-not-real-work today, and remembered that last year on MLK day I had the same conundrum and decided to fake-work by writing a post about a few of my very favourite authors: Helen Oyeyemi, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison, who whether through statistical improbability or otherwise all happen to be black women.
One year later, they are still a few of my very favourite authors, though none of them have published anything in the past year to talk about. Oyeyemi at least, who is the living author of the bunch, has Gingerbread coming out this March and I am eagerly awaiting it!
But then I realized that through statistical improbability or otherwise, I have three more great black women authors to talk about this year.
4. Nnedi Okorafor
Here’s another author where I am baffled that no one introduced me to her work before last year, especially because in addition to being a great writer of weird scifi/fantasy she has math bits in her work! I love all these things, why did no one tell me???
Binti is her scifi series with mathy main character. Akata Witch and Akata Warrior are a fantasy duology that is lighter and more accessible, very fun and has some memorable world building. Lagoon is more strange and literary with odd perspectives and oh do I love anyone who can write an alien or nonhuman mind.
I first heard her name connected to Who Fears Death, a book that I’ve heard is great and has lots of critical acclaim and stuff, but I’ve heard is an emotionally tough read, so for both those reasons I’m saving that for later. In the mean time, I’ve read six of her other books and plan to keep nomming up her catalog and whatever she writes next.
5. N.K. Jemisin
Jemisin is known for her Broken Earth trilogy, a wildly popular gritty post-apocalyptic fantasy series, and I’ll admit I have some conflicting feeling about it.
I stopped reading part-way through The Fifth Season despite the excellent writing because, well, it is very cruel and graphic not just in cliche “Look at me I’m a gritty fantasy book!” way, but in creative inventive new ways, and I don’t need creative new cruelties in my head. But people kept recommending it to me so I pushed through, and I’m glad I did because it smoothed out with less of the cruelty and more of the superb writing and worldbuilding.
I will definitely be looking out for whatever Jemisin writes next, and can heartily recommend the Broken Earth trilogy to anyone who can stomach, say, watching game of thrones.
6. Tomi Adeyemi
Woooo! Debut author on scene!
It’s not hard to read through Adeyemi’s entire catalogue because she just published her debut book, Children of Blood and Bone, in 2018. It won a lot of well-deserved awards. Definitely YA fiction, doesn’t have the strangeness or literary quality that would make it a favourite for me, but Adeyemi is an author I’ll be watching, and Children of Blood and Bone is a book I’d recommend to all fans of YA fantasy.
This book follows the standard formula fairly closely, but not stiflingly closely, and is overall well done and light and fun to read. The kind of book capable of winning popularity contests among books (which it did), but it’s not as shallow as most popular YA fantasy, and it has that magical feeling that I love reading.
I’m looking forward to Adeyemi’s next book, and even more so to her next series or single!
Oh my goodness, there are so many great books to read in the universe! And so many great authors! But Helen Oyeyemi is still my fav! Uggghh I am so excited to read all the books!!!!!!