Culture & Leisure
By Emily Croft, Editor
As Black History Month draws to a close and Women’s History Month is about to begin, it’s only fitting to recommend a few novels to read by black female authors. These popular novels focus on racial inequality and tell different stories of black women and the struggles they have faced.
The evanescent half
by Brit Bennett
Up first is a newer release, but it will rock your world nonetheless. Bennett’s novel is set in the late 1960s and tackles the idea of racial crossing. The novel follows two sisters and their different stories. Readers enter the mind of a woman living a white passage lifestyle and see how it changes the trajectory of her family. The novel also invites readers to discuss the difficulties faced by those who did not or could not pass as white, as well as the stigma of black communities surrounding death. Bennett’s genius novel is a roller coaster of emotions that mixes subplots of love and friendships.
Their eyes looked at God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Let’s go back in time to the Harlem Renaissance when Zora Neale Hurston shocked the world with her incredible songwriting. His novel Their Eyes Were Watch God is a straightforward classic that you can’t go wrong reading. The story tells of an early 20th-century woman who returns to rural Florida and remembers where she’s been and what she’s been through since leaving.
The story encapsulates love, loss, heartbreak, and a main character who refuses to give up when life is hard on her. Hurston beautifully connects the story to a southern black dialect that would have been relevant to the period as a means of retaining culture within the story itself. I could read this book again and again and never tire of it.
The purple color
by Alice Walker
I like this book for several reasons, the first being its epistolary format. The novel’s main character, Celie, tells the story by writing letters to God. The book feels realistic as readers witness firsthand the abusive life Celie had growing up and witness it firsthand. Along with this first-hand experience, there are depictions of power-based violence and more explicit language than the other recommendations in this article, so consider your warning before reading. I don’t think either of these inclusions takes away from the beauty of the novel, as Walker depicts the lives of young black women in the early 1900s.
by Toni Morrison
I saved this one for last simply because Toni Morrison is a writing genius, especially with this novel. Beloved takes us back to the 1850s, telling the story of a slave woman who escaped from a plantation with her children. Along the way, the mother (Sethe) must make difficult decisions about how she will protect her children from the violence of the world in which they live. The main thing I love about this book is that it’s based on a true story about a woman named Margaret Garner, who escaped from a plantation in Kentucky with her family until what law enforcement catches up to them in Ohio.