Recommendations

What we’re reading for Black History Month

Looking for something to read? We’re celebrating Black History Month by reading fascinating and inspirational stories by black women writers.

These are the books that the Women’s Prize team, board and friends have enjoyed and are currently reading. They are books that have entertained us, engaged us and changed the way we think – how many of these brilliant books have you read?


Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie

‘Irenosen Okojie is a sublime practitioner of the short story form, her playful and taut use of language closer to a poet than a novelist in this second collection of hers. The stories in Nudibranch are rooted in the real, in a world generally recognisable to us, but they quickly disarm the reader with their fantastical elements mixed into the everyday. Irenosen likens the stories to Black Mirror, and I love that dark, seductive humour.’

Nominated by Claire Shanahan

Beloved by Toni Morrison

‘A perfect melding of often unbearable reality, the supernatural, tenderness and brutality. It’s a book that calls you back at the most unexpected times. Toni Morrison creates a two tier landscape of ghosts and the traumatised living. She was inspired by the true life story of Margaret Garner, an escaped slave who barricaded herself in her cabin, and attempted to kill her children rather than let Marshalls take them all back into slavery. The characters in Beloved are vividly alive – even the ones that may not be…’

Nominated by Anita Anand 

 

The Spider King’s Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo

‘Lagos is brought vividly to life in Chubundu Onuzo’s first novel, which is reminiscent of a Shakespearian love story with our lovers divided by class and wealth. The details of their lives will entrance readers as Chibundu cleverly switches between the two first person narratives as their love grows, and then things take a darker turn. It’s utterly unputdownable and you’ll race towards the end, and what an ending it is!’

Nominated by Lynsey Passmore

 

My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

‘A bittersweet tale of friendship, love, betrayal and understanding, compellingly told by the inimitable Dorothy Koomson.  My Best Friend’s Girl packs an emotional punch (get that tissue box ready!); and its characters, with their relatable dilemmas, will stay with you long after you put the book down. There is a very good reason why this writer has become an international bestseller!’

Nominated by Christian Lewis

 

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

‘Follow Yinka’s misadventures in South London as she attempts to appease her meddlesome aunties by embarking on “Operation Wedding Date”. A fresh, irreverent subversion of the romantic comedy, full of hilarity and heartache, this is a big-hearted story about letting go of expectations and finding your place. Yinka needs her own series, please!’

Nominated by Lilidh Kendrick

 

Small Island by Andrea Levy

‘Andrea Levy’s characters are just unparalleled, I still carry Hortense around with me almost a decade after I first read this book. Levy’s sensitive yet witty portrait of the experiences of the Windrush generation brings post-war London to life on the page, with all of its prejudices and hardships.’

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2004.

Nominated by Jennifer Acton

 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

‘I consider The Vanishing Half to be one of the most exceptional books I’ve read in recent years. Bennett grapples with the far-reaching and deeply historical issue of race, colourism and power, alongside home, belonging and community, refracted through the most accomplished and seductive storytelling.’

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021

Nominated by Bernardine Evaristo

 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

‘Queenie is so many things – feisty, loveable, funny, complicated and bold. As a character she is drawn with such depth of feeling and vulnerability that it’s impossible not to be completely invested in her life and her actions. At turns heartwarming, funny and then heartbreaking. This book is a rollercoaster and I didn’t want to get off.’

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020

Nominated by Lynsey Passmore

 

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

‘Reading these linked stories is like travelling down a dark, mystical cave – it’s a seductive, scary and slightly strange experience, but stick with it, for awaiting you are twists and unexpected turns, joyful encounters with characters from other stories who turn up like old cosy friends, and captivating truth.’

Nominated by Claire Shanahan

 

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 

‘This book deserves to be called an epic. Across three centuries from 18th transatlantic slave trade right up to present day. The sorrow of lives unspeakably ruined, the histories that shape a heritage and the beauty in the language of the people who become known to you. This is a book that belongs to every generation. 

Gyasi is an exquisite writer and an uncompromising storyteller. It’s impossible to believe this was her first novel.’  

Nominated by Sarah Davis

Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

 ‘Barrington Jedidiah Walker Esq is a 74-year-old British-Antiguan dandy, a delightfully funny, if sometimes slippery, protagonist who is married with children but secretly loves and consorts with his old boyhood friend Morris. A clever, funny, rollicking and often surprising read.’

Nominated by Mary Ann Sieghart

 

 

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Half of a Yellow Sun is an absolute masterpiece. I learnt so much about my own heritage, about my own background, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, so beautifully, perfectly articulated.’

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2007

Nominated by Vick Hope


Let us know which book you choose to read over on social media! Looking for more book recommendations? Head over to our features section for recommendations, interviews, competitions and more!

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.