Skip navigation


Black History Month 2018

Black History Month

18 October 2018

In the UK Black History Month takes place in October. The aim is to celebrate the achievements and contributions of members of the black community over the years with many events taking part across the country. You can find out more about what’s going on by following the link Being a library we are, of course, celebrating the event by highlighting the work of black British writers available in the Calibre Library.

One of our favourite books is Small Island the prize winning novel by Andrea Levy, described as ‘possibly the definitive fictional account of the experiences of the Empire Windrush generation’. The book was also adapted for TV and shown as a two-part drama on the BBC starring Naomi Harris and David Oyelowo, among others. The story covers the period from WW2, when Jamaican Gilbert Joseph comes to Britain to join the RAF, to post-war London where Gilbert returns to a less than welcoming Britain with his wife, Hortense, following on.

Another popular work, NW by Zadie Smith, was also serialised by the BBC. It follows the lives of four Londoners who grew up on the same North London council estate. Jackie Kay’s wonderful autobiography takes us on a journey to find her birth parents, a Scottish nurse and a Nigerian student. Kay was adopted soon after birth by a white Glaswegian couple who provided her with a loving, if non-conventional, home.

See below for a selection of novels by Black British writers for you to enjoy:

26a by Diane Evans   7493

Georgia and Bessi are twins growing up in Neasden in the ‘80s. Born of a Nigerian mother and English father, they are forced to create their own identities, but as reality encroaches on their childhood fantasies they have to cope in a world of separateness.

The Famished Road by Ben Okri   3453

A magical novel of a young African boy's adventures through a spirit world of heroes and villains. Man Booker Prize Winner.

The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson   11309

It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing ‘The Flavours of Love’, the cookbook he started before he died. But now my husband’s killer is writing to me claiming to be innocent, and I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed to the world. My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

Small Island by Andrea Levy   6824

Returning to England after the war Gilbert Joseph is treated very differently now that he is no longer in an RAF uniform. Joined by his wife Hortense, he rekindles a friendship with Queenie who takes in Jamaican lodgers. Can their dreams of a better life in England overcome the prejudice they face? Whitbread Book of the Year Winner. Orange/Baileys Prize.

The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips   10835

A sweeping story of orphans and outcasts, haunted by the past and fighting to liberate themselves. At its centre is Monica Johnson, cut off from her parents after falling in love with a foreigner, and her bitter struggle to raise her sons in the shadow of the wild moors of the North of England.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman   616377

Callum is a nought, a second class citizen in a world run by Crosses. Sephy is a cross, the daughter of a powerful man. The two meet and eventually fall in love but a life together is a hopeless dream that is about to become a horrifying nightmare.

NW by Zadie Smith   12242

Four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan - have left their childhood council estate, grown up and moved on to different lives. After a chance encounter they each find that the choices they've made, the people they once were and are now, can suddenly, rapidly unravel. Contains some explicit sexual scenes.

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay   9561

In this revelatory and redemptive book Jackie Kay tells the story of her own life. It is a book about belonging and beliefs, strangers and family, biology and destiny and what makes us who we are.

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephania   617166

Alem, the son of an Ethiopean father and Eritrean mother, is left alone in London, his fate resting in the hands of the Refugee Council and the British justice system. This story charts Alem's fate as he is moved from children's home to foster family, and in and out of court hearings.