Perhaps, there is no better time than now to discover the best new books by black authors because, as with all things, the literary landscape is also changing.
An increasing number of contemporary black writers are breaking down gatekeeping in the publishing industry, making it possible for new and talented black authors to navigate the writing world – which has historically given a wide berth to white authors.
Despite this progress, there’s still a long way to go to make publishers more equitable for authors of color. According to Lee and Low’s Diversity in Publishing survey of 2019, only 5% of the writers identified themselves as Black/African-American in an industry where white authors make up a whopping 76%.
Committing to reading more books by black authors is a great way to make your bookshelves as diverse as the general population in the US while showing the support they deserve throughout the year and not just during Black History Month.
Best New Books by Black Authors Published in 2022
From page-turning fiction to must-read memoirs, this fresh outcrop of the books by Black authors released in 2022 captures the full range of the Black experience, including joy, heartache, and loss, to which readers can relate.
All the best books of 2022 by Black Authors at a glance:
Best Contemporary Romances
- Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan – Amazon
- You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi – Amazon
Best Domestic Fiction
- Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson – Amazon
Best Historical Fictions
- The Personal Librarian by Marie & Victoria – Amazon
- Yonder by Jabari Asim – Amazon
- Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow – Amazon
- Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez – Amazon
- The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb – Amazon
- Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris – Amazon
- Wahala by Nikki May – Amazon
Best YA Fantasy
- Almost There: A Twisted Tale by Farrah Rochon – Amazon
Best Memoirs and Non-fictions
- Manifesto: On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo – Amazon
- Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James – Amazon
- This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris – Amazon
- The Travyon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander – Amazon
If you are curious about what makes these books best, their plot lines captivating, and how these tomes can help you overall, then keep scrolling. You might uncover some intriguing and mysterious insights that will pique your interest an extra mile. Let’s delve deeper, shall we?
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
Poignant and steamy, Before I Let Go is Kennedy Ryan’s most anticipated book of the year since she announced she was writing a second-chance romance with grownup folks.
Kennedy tells the story of Yasmen and Josiah, whose once enviable marriage burns to the ground when faced with a devastating loss. They slowly pick up the pieces and move on with their new reality while co-parenting their children and running a successful small business together. It’s obvious their love never lost a spark. One kiss, then another, and another. But their rekindled desire reopens old scars and trauma.
Before I Let Go is a deeply layered and emotionally rendered portrayal of love, healing, and reclaiming happiness. It’s amazing to see how Kennedy Ryan captures all the nuances of the Black family as well as the vulnerability of a Black man.
If you’re looking for a heartfelt contemporary romance by a black author with family dynamics, this is definitely the book for you. Enjoy!
Published on November 15, 2022
You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
In You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty, Emezi tells the story of a Nigerian-American artist Feyi Adekola who is finally recovering from the physical and emotional scars left after her husband died in a car accident five years ago. After much hesitation, she starts seeing a great guy but Feyi finds herself seismically attracted to someone else – a forbidden love. The conundrum ignites a struggle between her desire for happiness and the lingering effects of her trauma.
With this novel, the Brooklyn-based Nigerian author pushes the needle on the predictable narrative arc of the romantic discourse, challenging the readers to consider the intricacies of human relationships. The prose is rich with sensory details and emotions that make it more of a literary read.
A must-read for fans of enchanting romance, cultural references, contemporary fiction, and African-American literature. The cherry on top, Amazon Studios and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society have already bought the screen rights to the novel.
Published on May 24, 2022
Yonder by Jabari Asim
Shocking and eloquent, Jabari Asim’s Yonder is a historical fiction novel about buried truths and redeemable hope that springs from love and friendship.
Set in the mid-19th century, Yonder transports the reader to a southern plantation, where a group of enslaved (Stolen) Black people face inhumane work conditions at the hands of their captors (Thieves). They stripped them away from their culture, language, beliefs, and loved ones until a visiting minister with a mysterious past shows up and sparks the flame of independence. Now, torn between the hope of freedom and the fear of the unknown, the powerful bond of their relationships is threatened, causing them to question who they can trust and whether they should risk everything for love.
Yonder is a poetic yet heart-wrenching portrayal of intimacy, longing, and perseverance in the face of adversity, capturing the essence of a dark chapter in America’s history.
Published on January 11, 2022
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
As delicious as the titular dessert, Charmaine Wilkerson’s stellar debut novel, Black Cake explores the nuances of how inheritance, including secrets and memories, can impact family relationships and history.
When Eleanor Bennett passes away, she leaves behind a voice recording and a traditional Caribbean black cake for her two estranged children, Byron and Benny. As they navigate through the elements of mysterious inheritance, they face the challenge of uncovering the truth, healing their relationship, and fulfilling the final request of their mother to “share the black cake when the time is right.”
One of the best fiction books by a Black author, Black Cake tugs at the reader’s heartstrings through the emotional and expertly written story of a family with a powerful matriarch. Watch out for the Hulu TV series adaptation of Black Cake co-produced by our very own Oprah Winfrey.
Published on February 1, 2022
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
Dubbed as a rhapsodic hymn to Black women by New York Times, this timeless debut novel traces the ups and downs of one Southern Black family across three generations.
In 1995, Joan, a 10-year-old girl, along with her mother and younger sister, escape from her father’s abuse and find sanctuary in her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. There Joan uses her proclivity for painting to express her anger and emotions. She soon understands the healing power of paintbrush and realizes the importance of her family’s history, legacy, and lineage.
Told through multiple perspectives and shifting timelines, Memphis dives into the depths of collective Black pain, offering a glimmer of hope for Black healing. Inspired by her family history, in this American epic, author Tara M. Stringfellow assembles endearing and unforgettable characters who find strength in their vulnerability, solace in art, and freedom in telling the truth.
Published on April 5, 2022
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Deeply empathetic, this riveting work of historical fiction is based on a true story about a Black nurse who exposes a terrible wrong committed against her patients.
Set in 1973 in Montgomery, Alabama, the novel follows Civil Townsend, a recent nursing school graduate eager to make a difference in her community. As she begins working at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, her world is turned upside down within a week when she discovers the horrendous reality of the two young patients she is helping.
With sensitivity and grace, Take My Hand delves into the devastating consequences of the event and the lasting scars of institutional injustice, as well as the courage and love needed to heal those wounds.
Published on April 12, 2022
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
A promising debut and a galvanizing blend of thriller, family drama, and racism; Brendan Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy does for classical music what The Queen’s Gambit did for chess.
The novel revolves around Ray McMillian, an aspiring Black musician whose prized possession, a family heirloom violin, is stolen on the eve of the world’s most prestigious music competition. As he struggles to recover the violin, Ray must cope with both his family and the family of those who once enslaved his ancestors and is now claiming the instrument.
Overall, The Violin Conspiracy is a gripping and valuable read that shines a brutal light on the sensitive issues of discrimination in classical music. With less than 2% of classical musicians being Black and less than 12% being people of color, Slocumb’s lesson in artistry is an unflinching peek into the heart and soul of a talented violin soloist striving to pursue his dream in the face of adversity
Published on February 1, 2022
Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris
Award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets has created another heart-thumping mystery-thriller Anywhere You Run. Set in the mid-1960s, against the backdrop of three notorious murders during the era of Jim Crow laws, Morris’ meticulously researched novel unspools the gripping tale of murder and social shame involving two Black sisters on the run.
The peaceful life of Violet Richard and her elder sister Marigold living in Mississippi ends when Violet kills a white man who committed a heinous crime with her. Meanwhile, Marigold, who is working for the cause of Black people’s right to vote, has a situation of her own. As both sisters grapple with the implications of their decisions, the suspense amps up when powerful forces target each sister for their twisted motives.
With a character-driven narrative that seamlessly switches, Anywhere You Run is an intense story with underlying themes of racism, sexism, and inequality.
History combined with mystery makes this one an exciting read by a Black author for Black History Month and beyond.
Published on October 25, 2022
Almost There: A Twisted Tale by Farrah Rochon
Eerily atmospheric, the 13th retelling in the New York Times best-selling series delves into the magical world of Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” with a new twist.
Almost There follows Tiana, a young African American woman in 1920s New Orleans as she accepts a Faustian bargain with Dr. Facilier, the Shadow Man. As a result, all her wishes come true in her new reality – her restaurant, her friends, and her father, who miraculously still lives. As the story progresses, the dream starts to crumble, and evil forces come into play. Tiana and her friends must deal with them, or they risk losing everything they hold dear.
Told through alternating perspectives, Rochon’s standalone YA fantasy novel immerses readers in the rich history and culture of New Orleans’ Jazz Age. The story is full of intrigue, magic, and hard lessons that everyone can relate to. Curl up with this book and enjoy the cozy read!
Published on September 06, 2022
Manifesto: On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo
Unapologetic and empowering, Bernardine Evaristo’s debut non-fiction book Manifesto is a powerful reflection on her writing journey, life, and contemporary challenges.
As the first Black woman and the first Black British person to win the Booker Prize for her bestselling novel Girl, Women Other, Evaristo shares how she made her dreams real despite the naysaying noise of the world and how she broke into the halls of literary power through her unwavering determination.
In this memoir, she also outlines her philosophy of ‘unstoppability’ and encourages others to persevere in their creative pursuits, no matter the challenges. With humor, wit, and unshakable belief, Manifesto serves as both a memoir and a motivational guide, reminding us to persist in our passions and find success in our work. A must-read that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired.
Published on January 18, 2022
Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James
Unsparing and hilarious, Admissions by Kendra James is a coming-of-age memoir about her time as a first African American legacy student at a predominantly white Taft boarding school in Connecticut, as well as her role as an admissions officer, specializing in diversity recruitment for prep schools.
James, while trying to find balance in a space that was never built for her, gracefully renders her experience as a Black girl in a top-tier white school, including conflicts with her white roommate, her unlearning of respectability politics she was raised with, and the aftermath of a student newspaper article accusing Black and Latinx students of segregating the campus.
Admissions is a thought-provoking memoir that offers a humorous depiction of the elitist life and insights into a false promise made in the name of equity, inclusion, and diversity in education.
Published on January 18, 2022
This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris
Unraveling the complex realities of motherhood, Taylor Harris’s debut memoir offers an intimate, insightful, and heart-wrenching account of the journey to save her son’s life while facing the unknown.
Just before his second birthday, Harris’s son suddenly becomes listless and unresponsive. As a Black mother with a history of anxiety, Taylor is uncertain about whether she’s overreacting, but her fears are confirmed when she arrives at the hospital. From there, a challenging quest begins for a mother seeking answers to her son’s increasing symptoms in an inequitable healthcare system.
This Boy We Made is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of healthcare and race in America. At its core is a bond between a mother and her child, narrated in a frank, vulnerable voice imbued with hope and nuance.
Published on January 18, 2022
The Travyon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander
A lyrical meditation on the intersection of generational trauma and art, New York Times bestselling author and poet Elizabeth Alexander, who recited a poem at Barack Obama’s first inauguration ceremony, expands on her viral essay first published in The New Yorker.
In her short and poignant book, she illuminates the realities of Black youth in today’s America, who have been unable to escape the brutality and abuse of racism. Drawing upon her literary voice and the works of prominent artists, Alexander reflects upon the emotional toll and political unrest that affect the young people of this ears, while also offering a hopeful vision for the future.
Published on April 5, 2022
These are just some of the many great books published by Black authors in 2022. If you want to explore the year and celebrate the best of Black literature, be sure to check the book recommendations below: