The racism, state-sanctioned violence, and police brutality that Black people in the U.S. are facing right now is not new. Neither is the anger, grief, fear, and exhaustion that so many people are feeling. Since books are what we do here at the Riot, I’ve put together a list of upcoming books by Black authors that you can preorder right now. Buying books by Black authors is one tangible way to listen to, celebrate, and uplift Black voices.
I am not implying that buying books by Black authors is a substitute for the ongoing anti-racist work we need to do to make this country free and livable for all Black and other marginalized people. Getting educated about the history of race and racism in the U.S., providing financial or other support/solidarity to protestors and anti-racist organizations, and dismantling white supremacy in our lives, jobs, and relationships are all crucial. This is a “yes, and” situation. If buying books is in your budget, now is a good time to give those dollars to Black writers.
I included books from as many genres as possible on this list. But, of course, these books are only a drop in the bucket; there are many more upcoming books by Black authors than I could possibly fit on one list. Preorder these books if you’re able. If not, put them on hold or request that your library buy them. Shout about them on social media. Black writers today are creating so much beautiful work that deserves celebration and recognition from every single one of us.
Our Time Is Now by Stacey Abrams (Nonfiction)
Politician and activist Stacey Abrams lays out strategies for voting reform and building inclusive political movements in 2020 and beyond in this insightful and passionate book. She also recounts stories, lessons, and victories from her 2018 gubernatorial campaign and the social justice work she’s done since then.
All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani (YA Fiction)
In her second novel, Tamani follows two Black teenagers through all the joys and complications of falling in love for the first time. Carli and Rex are both star basketball players at their respective Texas high schools. They seem destined to be together, but their own secrets—and those of their families—threaten to keep them apart.
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (Romance)
When Samiah learns that she’s been dumped by a jerk of a boyfriend who did the same thing to two other women, their story goes viral online and they become best friends. Putting men on hold, they plan to spend several months focusing on themselves. Samiah is busy developing her dream app when she meets a new man at work, and suddenly “on hold” becomes a lot harder.
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue (Fiction)
Told from the point-of-view of a generation of children, this harrowing and hopeful epic novel explores what happens when a greedy American oil company clashes with the residents of a small African village.
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West (Fiction)
Set on the South Side of Chicago, this mystery explores race, friendship, and family legacies. When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered, she’s left on her own with her violent father. Her best friend Layla is the only one who seems to understand how much danger she’s in, but as Layla uncovers secrets about their families’ pasts, her relationship with Ruby becomes more and more tangled.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory (Romance)
In the latest installment of the Wedding Date series, Jasmine Guillory delivers another charming, sexy, feel-good romance. Olivia has just moved to L.A. to start her own law firm. Max is a hotshot senator often in the spotlight. They meet at hotel bar without knowing anything about each other—and then have to figure out how to build a relationship amidst their demanding careers and media attention.
Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (Romance)
Danika Brown is focused on her career, not romance. But when a video of her coworker Zafir rescuing her from a botched fire drill at work goes viral, she agrees to fake date him. The problem was fake dating is that it sometimes turns into real dating…especially when Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic and Danika isn’t maybe as romance-averse as she once thought.
Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma Dabiri (Nonfiction)
In this collection of essays blending the personal and the political, Emma Dabiri explores the ins and outs of Black hair culture, including the ways Black hair has been appropriated throughout history, the continued stigmatization of Black hair today, and the cultural movements celebrating black hair. She uses Black hair as a lens to examine racism, pop culture, body politics, and history.
Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera (Romance)
Due to his work, Desta Joy Walker finds himself in Addis Ababa on his 26th birthday, a city that contains both the happy memories of his first home and the sad ones of his father’s death. While there, he meets Elias Fikru, a young man who’s been wrestling with the decision to leave his home and pursue his PhD in the U.S. Their chance meeting changes the direction of both their lives.
This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope by Shayla Lawson (Essays)
In this funny and moving collection of essays, Lawson takes a deep dive into black girl culture. She combines personal stories, pop culture insight, and historic and cultural analysis into a book that looks at all the ways Black women and girls are at the center of mainstream culture.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (YA Fiction)
In this story, told over the course of a single day, two teenagers team up to fight for their right to vote. When politically active Marva sees another teenager turned away at the polls when he tries to vote, she decides to help him get to the bottom of the problem. So begins their whirlwind day, which contains equal parts romance and activism.
Slay in Your Lane Presents: Loud Black Girls by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené (Essays)
In this essay anthology of writing by Black British women, over 20 new and establish writers speak about what matters to them as Black women in the UK in this present moment.
Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola (Folktales and Mythology)
In this collection of romantic short stories, Babalola draws on mythology, folklore, history, and ancient epics from around the world to retell classic tales in new ways. It’s a celebration of the beautiful diversity that exists in stories of love, desire, and connection.
The Beauty in the Breaking by Michele Harper (Memoir)
In this poignant memoir, Michele Harper, an African American emergency room doctor, explores the many ways that her work as a physician has aided her own journey of self-healing. She also gets into what it’s like to be a Black woman in a predominately male-dominated field, and the ways that racism permeates the U.S. medical system.
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (Crime)
Bug Montage is an honest car mechanic, but once upon a time he was well-known as an expert getaway driver. When financial disaster lures him into participating in a massive diamond heist, he only wants to get the job done and get out of crime forever. But when the heist goes wrong, he gets pulled into a dangerous world that threatens the life he’s built for himself.
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Historical Fantasy)
In this dark historical fantasy, set in New York City just before the start of World War II, a girl from Harlem is drawn into the city’s underworld when she’s hired as an assassin.
Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (Memoir)
In this harrowing memoir, Trethewey reckons with the brutal murder of her mother by her former stepfather. She was only 19 when her mother was murdered, and in this moving and heartbreaking book, she explores the ways that trauma has shaped her as a person and and an artist. She delves into her mother’s life in the segregated South, as well as her own girlhood as the child of an interracial couple. With keen insight and a poet’s grace, she writes about the lasting legacies of abuse and racism, as well as the ferocity of love and resilience.
Luster by Raven Leilani (Fiction)
This sharp and witty novel follows Edie, a twentysomething Black woman, who is struggling to become an artist and working an admin job. When she starts a relationship with a man in an open marriage, she’s slowly drawn into the life of his family.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Fiction)
Set in a small town in Nigeria, this book begins when a mother opens her door to discover the body of her child, Vivek, on her doorstep. What follows is the unforgettable story of Vivek’s life. Like Emezi’s debut, Freshwater, this is a bighearted book teeming with all the complexity and mess of human relationships.
Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins (Nonfiction)
Morgan Jerkins grew up in New Jersey; her grandparents came north during the Great Migration. In this stirring book that is part memoir, part history, she sets out to understand her place in the history of movement that has shaped Black America. Her quest takes her on a journey across the country, where she visits with Black people from many diverse cultures.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson (Science Fiction)
This creative novel is set in a world where travel between worlds is finally possible, with one catch: you can’t travel to a world where another version of yourself exists. This makes Cara the perfect candidate for multiverse travel, as nearly all of her other selves have died. But when one of her few remaining selves suddenly dies, Cara sets off a dangerous quest across world that reveals new truths about herself and the universe.
Here is the Sweet Hand by francine j. harris (Poetry)
In her third collective of poems, francine j. harris uses innovate forms to explore womanhood, blackness, solitude, art, aging, and the myths surrounding femininity and loneliness.
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (Nonfiction)
In her latest book, brilliant historian Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns) takes a long look at the often-unseen and unspoken caste system that has defined American history and continues to shape modern American culture and politics. Meticulously researched and full of stories about real people, this book also takes a look at caste systems around the world, and the common factors that hold them up.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (YA Fantasy)
Raised by a mysterious and absent mother, Tarisai has always longed for a family. When she’s chosen to compete with several other children to become a member of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11, she hopes it’ll be the family she’s always dreamed of having. But her mysterious mother asks her to kill the Crown Prince instead, she’s forced to stand up for herself and her life like never before.
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (Middle Grade Fantasy)
In this middle grade fantasy, a young boy sets out to get justice for his murdered father. But he’s not sure what he, only 12, can do, until a mysterious meeting in the night leaves him with an object that gives him magical powers, and a charge to use those powers to do good in the world.
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (YA fiction)
Told in verse, this hard-hitting YA novel follows Amal Shahid, a poet and artist who is wrongfully incarcerated as a teenager, and who uses his poetry to fight back against an unjust system.
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie (Fiction)
Afi Tekple is a seamstress living with her widowed mother in a small town in Ghana when she gets an offer to marry a wealthy man from Accra. When she arrives in the capital, she quickly learns that her new husband is in love with another woman of whom his family disapproved. They want her to woo him back. What follows is one woman’s journey to create a life on her own terms.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Fiction)
Gyasi’s second novel is the moving story of a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Since her brother died from an opioid overdose, Grifty has thrown herself into her PhD research in neuroscience. But she’s haunted by her childhood, and she’s drawn back into the family when she begins taking care of her depressed mother. This is a haunting, gorgeous book about addition, religion, science, and home.
Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine (Poetry)
In this breathtaking collection of poetry, essays, and images, Claudia Rankine asks Americans to do the hard work of talking to each other, and to open ourselves up to the painful conversations about racism, white supremacy, and violence that lead to change and growth. Angry, disruptive, insightful and always brilliant, this book is a must-read.
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters (YA Fiction)
Wesley Hudson has three problems: his unrequited crush on his best friend, the fact that he might lose his dream job at a used bookstore thanks to a new coffee franchise, and his brother, who keeps asking him for wedding planning advice. All three problems converge in one summer that finally forces Wesley to face growing up.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (Thriller)
Romance author Alyssa Cole proves she can do sinister just as well as happily ever after in her first domestic thriller. This gripping novel takes a hard look at gentrification in one Brooklyn neighborhood, when one woman’s plan to protect her community and uphold its past quickly takes a dizzying and unexpected turn for the worst.
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (YA Mystery)
When Korey Fields, a legendary R&B star, turns up dead, and Enchanted Jones wakes up with blood on her hands and no memory of how it got there, her life begins to spiral out of control. Previously on the edge of stardom, thanks to Korey taking her under his wing, she’s now struggling to explain her actions to the police, and herself.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (YA Fantasy)
Sixteen-year-old Bree is running from her past, and her mother’s death, when she witnesses a magical attack on her first night at a residential program for bright high school students. She’s soon caught up in a dark world of dangerous creatures and the human students who hunt them down. As she learns more about this mysterious magic and those who wield it, she discovers there was more to her mother’s death than she thought, and she’s about to be in the middle of a magical war.
Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron (Middle Grade Fantasy)
Twelve-year-old Maya is used to seeing strange magical beings around her Chicago neighborhood and in her dreams. But when her dad goes missing, and she sets out on a quest to find him, she no longer just sees strange things—she finds herself in the middle of an ongoing battle between our world and the Dark world.
And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (Mystery)
In this mystery about two complex women and the nature of secrets, Grayson Sykes sets out on a search for Isabel Lincoln—even though she might not want to be found. As Grayson slowly uncovers more about Isabel’s life, and the secrets she’s kept, her quest grows murkier and more dangerous.
Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (YA Fiction)
In this follow up to Dear Martin, Nic Stone tells the story of an incarcerated teenager, Quan, who writes letters to Justyce (the hero of Dear Martin) about his experiences in the American prison system.
Burning Sugar by Cicely Belle Blain (Poetry)
In this debut collection, Cicely Belle Blain explores the legacies of trauma and history on Black bodies. They use poetry to explore activism, racism, queerness, resilience, and the ongoing pain caused by colonization and system oppression.
Class Act by Jerry Craft (Middle Grade Graphic Novel)
In this companion to New Kid, Jerry Craft returns with another funny, smart, and moving middle grade graphic novel about friendship and being yourself. This one focuses on Drew, one of the few kids of color at private school, and his efforts to keep his group of friends together.
Memorial by Bryan Washington (Fiction)
Benson and Mike are a couple at a crossroads. Mike is a Japanese American chef and Benson is a Black day care teacher; they’ve been together for a few years and aren’t sure about the future of their relationship. Everything changes when Mike flies to Japan to visit his dying father while, at the same time, his mother arrives in Houston and ends up staying with Benson.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (Fantasy)
Set in Prohibition-era Georgia, this dark fantasy novella combines real-life racist monsters with supernatural monsters and demons. It features incredible (and terrifying) world-building and a badass heroine.
If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon (Romance)
In this Cinderella retelling, Amanda Queen, aspiring screenwriter, shares one amazing night with hotshot actor Sam Pleasant before she disappears. What follows is a zany, fun and romantic adventure as the two find their way back to each other—and maybe learn something about themselves in the process.
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi (Fiction)
In this epic family saga spanning three continents, Ekwuyasi tells the story of three Nigerian women: Kambirinachi, who believes herself to be a non-human spirit destined to bring her family grief, and her twin daughters. After years of living apart, the twins return to Lagos, where all three three women must confront their complicated relationships in order to move forward.
Inheritance by Taylor Johnson (Poetry)
Inspired by everyday events, ordinary moments, and day-to-day living in Washington, D.C., these poems tackle identity, desire, and the ongoing struggle of self-discovery and definition.
Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham (Nonfiction)
This multimedia collection celebrates the creative work of Black artists, writers, activists, and thinkers. It combines poetry, essays, photos, recipes, tweets, and more into a kaleidoscopic vision of Black excellence and the many possibilities for Black futures.
King of the Rising by Kacen Callender (Fantasy)
This is Callender’s second novel set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world plagued by the evils of colonial oppression, the follow-up to Queen of the Conquered. This book follows Loren, former slave turned revolutionary leader, who’s charged with leading a band of survivors in their quest to bring freedom to their island once and for all.
While preordering books is a fantastic way to support Black authors, it’s not something everyone can do. If you’re looking for more books by Black authors you can read right now, we’ve got you covered:
- 20 Black Children’s Books by Black Authors
- 25 Fantastic Middle Grade Books by Black Authors
- Read Black Romance Novels for Black History Month
- 20 Must-Read Audiobooks Narrated by Black Women
- 20 Must-Read African Fantasy Novels