Malorie Blackman: ‘I want to write about black joy’

In this special bonus episode of the podcast for International Women’s Day, host Zawe Ashton is joined by her lifelong idol Malorie Blackman. Listen to the episode in full here.

Malorie is the trailblazing, multi-award-winning author of over 70 novels for children and young adults, including the universally adored Noughts and Crosses series. Malorie tells Zawe about the five novels by women that shaped her identity and outlook as a writer – plus she shares the advice from Alice Walker that helped her persevere through 82 rejections. Read on to discover Malorie’s Bookshelfie choices…

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë tells the story of orphaned Jane Eyre, who grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, enduring…

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‘As soon as I’d finished reading it, I immediately turned to the first page and started again … I love the fact that Jane Eyre is by her own admission not pretty, not terribly clever. But what she does have is strength of character, she stands up for herself.’


Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again… With these words a reader is swept up into a world…

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‘It was the first book I read where the protagonist wasn’t actually present in the book, but she had such an influence over everybody else … I do love books that have a particular point of view or are different in form.’

The Color Purple

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural…

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‘What a revelation. It’s such a celebration of black womanhood, of sisterhood, of women having to look after each other … It was an inspiration in that I saw there were black writers out there, black women writers.’

The Bluest Eye

Nobel prize-winning author of Beloved, Toni Morrison’s debut novel immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family…

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‘The writing was so evocative and lyrical and beautiful, but it was heart-wrenching … It felt like a punch in the face when I was reading it. And that’s probably why I loved it.’

The Women of Brewster Place

From behind the battered doors of an apartment block, come the stories of seven courageous black women. Each has suffered…

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‘It’s about a community of black women, and black women supporting each other, and black women connecting and communicating with each other. Some of the stories are harrowing and some are uplifting.’

If you enjoyed delving into Malorie Blackman’s bookshelves, you can tune into the full episode here.

Plus, there are many more episodes to discover from seasons 1-3 here, including Emeli Sandé, Candice Carty-Williams and Claire Danes. Make sure to subscribe to the Women’s Prize podcast to be the first to know when the brand-new season drops.

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.