Celebrating black voices in literature – classics

If the last few weeks have taught us anything it is that we should be lifting black voices, authors, artists, etc every day of the year, not just when there’s a protest or when it is Black History Month. With that in mind we searched through our online catalogue to find the best in black literature and over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting different genres from non-fiction to Young Adult.

This week we’ve chosen four classic books that have stood the test of time and continue to be read and read again by literature lovers. Filled with complicated characters experiencing the full spectrum of emotion these books are rich and timeless.

All these eBooks are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is a Kensington and Chelsea library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry, just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

Things fall apartThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart is a must read and considered one of the greats of literature. It shows the clash of colonialism and traditional culture and the impact it has on a tribe all through the eyes of Okonowo considers himself to be the greatest warrior alive. He is one of the most powerful men of his clan. But he also has a fiery temper. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone – even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonowo takes violent action. Will the great man’s dangerous pride eventually destroy him?

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved is a giant of literature and for good reason. Winner of a Pulitzer prize, it is an evocative story that deals with the deep hurt of slavery and the past in the life of its main character.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

if beale street could talk book picIf Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

James Baldwin is considered one of the great thinkers, writers, and essayists of the 20th century and while we could list his entire collection of written works, we’ve chosen If Beale Street Could Talk for its depiction of young love in Harlem in the 1970s.

In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin tells the story of young love in the face of injustice through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child. Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad and the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope.

Their eyes watching godTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Considered one of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature and a classic of the Harlem renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel, is a Southern love story written in beautifully poetic prose. The novel tells the story of Janie Crawford and her search for independence through three marriages and a life marked by poverty and many trials. Janie is a character reminiscent of Alice Walker’s Celie in her stubborn determination and growth.

This list is only a small selection of the books we have available in our online collection. If you want to read more about black history, antiracism, or you want to find out what other black authors we have then head over to the Cloud Library to find more.


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