Covers of The Good Immigrant, Run Rebel, Poor and Homegoing on a blue background
Covers of The Good Immigrant, Run Rebel, Poor and Homegoing on a blue background

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann

Told in verse, Run, Rebel is about Amber, a teenager who is trapped by her father’s rules and expectations and her own fears. All she really wants to do is run, and to figure out how to fight for her mother, her sister and herself.

Mann’s debut novel was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2021, the Brandford Boase Award 2021 and the UKLA Book Awards 2021, and shortlisted for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2021.

The Guardian called it a "tightly crafted series of punchy, often heartbreaking narrative poems… Mann's brilliant, coruscating verse novel lays out the anatomy of Amber's revolution, and the tentative first flowerings of hope and change.”
This novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan, Elizabeth Acevedo, Nikita Gill and Rupi Kaur.

Topics/themes: Feminism, domestic violence, family

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing begins with half-sisters Effia and Esi, who don’t know they’re related. While one is sold into slavery, the other becomes the wife of a slave trader.

Gyasi’s debut novel takes readers from the Gold Coast of Africa and the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi to the missionary schools of Ghana and the dive bars of Harlem, as it follows Effia and Esi’s descendants and the very different paths they take to the present day.

Homegoing won awards including the PEN/Hemingway Award, which honours a distinguished first book of fiction, and the Audie Award for Literary Fiction & Classics.

Topics/themes: Slavery, immigration, family, love

Poor by Caleb Femi

Poet Femi’s debut book combines poetry and original photography to explore the trials, tribulations, dreams and joys of young Black boys in 21st century Peckham. Femi looks at experiences including being stopped and searched at 13, walking through estates of almost 1,500 homes without touching the ground, and how a built environment of concrete and gentrification writes a history of South London youth.

Poor is also the story of Femi’s own youth, a tribute to the rappers and artists he loves, and to the world that shaped him.

Actor and writer Michaela Coel said of Femi: “Oh my God, he's just stirring me. Destroying me.” Poor was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize and chosen as a book of 2020 by The New Statesman, The Times, The Guardian and more.

Topics/themes: Coming-of-age, masculinity

Selected Poems by Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore is one of Kolkata’s most famous artists; he was a painter, novelist, musician and, most famously of all, a poet. He was also a fierce critic of colonial rule in India, although he died in 1941, just six years before the British left the country.

This collection of his poetry show his range and depth, touching on subjects including the interplay between God and the world, the changing universe, and family.

Topics/themes: Colonialism, politics, family, religion

Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead won the Forward Prize for Best Collection and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry.

Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a sequence that imagines an afterlife for Black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith’s poems also touch on desire, mortality, and an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Topics/themes: Race, grief, police violence, health

Books by other publishers

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

Published by Unbound

This collection of essays by 21 people of colour addresses what it means to be an immigrant or the child of immigrants in the UK. Contributors including Shukla, actors Riz Ahmed and Himesh Patel, journalists Bid Adewunmi and Coco Khan and more address topics including representation on television, what it means to have words from your native language misappropriated and used aggressively towards you, and how it feels to always have to be an ambassador for your race.

The Good Immigrant was crowd-funded via the publisher Unbound, and has since led to a sequel bringing together writers in the US, and started a trend for essay collections examining a series of topics around race and ethnicity.

The Good Immigrant was inspired by a discussion around why society deems people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until they do something exceptional, like win Olympic medals or nationally televised baking competitions.

Topics/themes: Race, belonging, British history, representation

Cover of Fruit of the Lemon

Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy

Published by Tinder Press

Faith Jackson seems to have the perfect flatshare and a great job in television, but those, plus her relationship with her loving yet overbearing family are far from it. When her parents announce that they’re going to retire back home in Jamaica, Faith makes her own journey there and is welcomed by her Aunt Coral.

Through her aunt’s stories, a case of characters unfolds, stretching back to Cuba and Panama, Harlem and Scotland, a story that passes through London and sweeps through continents.

Levy was an English author best known for the novels Small Island and The Long Song.

Topics/themes: Home and belonging, family

Cover of The Boy in the Black Suit

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Published by Faber & Faber

Seventeen-year-old Matt wears a black suit everyday, for his job at the local funeral home. Since his mother died, his father can’t handle the bills on his own. As his father is drawn to alcohol, Matt meets Lovey and is drawn to her. Lovey is tough in a way Matt wishes he could be, and seems to understand his loneliness.

The Boy in the Black Suit is Reynolds’ second young adult book, and was named a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.

Reynolds is a Newbery Award honouree, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors.

Topics/themes: Death, grief, love, loneliness

Cover of Bantam

Bantam by Jackie Kay

Published by Picador

Poet Kay has been Scots Makar – the national poet laureate of Scotland – since 2016, and Bantam is the first collection she published after taking on that role.
Bantam is about the fighting spirit and brings three generations into sharp focus: Kay’s own, her father’s, and his own father’s.

Kay’s collection examines how old injuries can emerge years later, how we bear and absorb the loss of friends, how we celebrate and welcome new life, and how we how we embody our times.

Topics/themes: Family, grief, love

Cover of Manchester Happened

Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Published by Oneworld

Shorlisted for magazine publisher Hearst’s Big Book Awards, Manchester Happened is a collection of short stories about the Ugandans who choose to make England their home. Weaving between Manchester and Kampala, the collection reimagines the journeys of it characters, and examines the nature of belonging.

Nansubuga Makumbi is also the author of Kintu, a reimagining of the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan.

Topics/themes: Home and belonging, immigration

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