Many of the book clubs I’ve gone to in the past don’t have many books written by minorities, and make no effort to find them. So we’re making it an annual tradition here at GXO to recommend a books written by authors of color, that would make excellent selections for book clubs.
The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
There’s been a ton of buzz about The Vanishing Half and it’s one of NY Time’s 10 Best Books of 2020 – and it completely deserves all the hype! It has all the elements of a good book – captivating plot, characters that will pull you into their lives and just enough drama – but done with a subtle, deft touch by the author. It follows the Vignes twin sisters who grow up together in a small, southern black community. Ten years after running away at age sixteen, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Bennett gets you into the sisters heads and how they choices have shaped them, altered their outlook on life, as well as how they raise their children. There’s so much more to this book – it’s a deep, complex story that you will not regret picking up. You will become invested in the story of the twin sisters – I promise.
His Only Wife, Peace Adzo Medie
Set in Ghana, His Only Wife is about an arranged marriage between Afi and Elikem … only Elikem already has live-in girlfriend … who his family doesn’t like, so they arranged the marriage to Afi. Efi doesn’t even show up – he sends his brother in his place. The author really does an amazing job with giving us the back … front and sides to this saga! It’s like a soap opera and very well written. And side-note – all the food references alone made me gain weight! This on the face of it seems like a simple and innocuous book, but it will leave you thinking about the characters – and about relationships and the dynamics between men and women – husband and wives.
Side note – the audiobook narration – I might be wrong, but it throws me off completely listening to a book set in an African country – Ghana in this case – and not hearing an accented audibook narrator. It made it seems too Americanized – thankfully the author had plenty of references to Ghanian places, food and culture – but I wished I had heard a more representative voice.
When No One is Watching, Alyssa Cole
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block – her neighbor Theo. But their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
This book is a mystery, wrapped with a whole lot of black history and background behind gentrification … all without being super heavy handed (I mean it was sometimes – but it tied really well into the whole mystery of what was going down in the neighborhood). This book is perfect for those who don’t read a lot of non-fiction (or history) – because you’ll learn it here, but there’s still a fiction novel. And let’s talk about the ending when you’re done reading! It’s quite polarizing – some people like it, some didn’t – I did.
Other recommendations we’ve made in the past – 5 More Fiction Recommendations To Add Diversity To Your Book Club Reads and 9 More Fiction Recommendations to Add Diversity to Your Book Club Selections … and here’s 6 Reasons I Stopped Going to Your Book Club.