Our first blog post celebrating Black art brings you a plethora of bookseller blurbs for a select number of recent fiction and nonfiction titles we couldn’t get enough of. Each title delivers exciting, urgent narratives by the Black voices that are defining our literary landscape—bridging experiences across racial, sexual, geographic lines. Read what our booksellers had to say about them.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Out just this week, The Vanishing Half is the second novel by Brit Bennett. It is the most recent pick for the Good Morning America book club has already been described as one of the “best and boldest” (Elle) of 2020.
“Brit Bennett follows her gorgeous debut novel, The Mothers, with an intimate and deeply moving story of family, racial identity, and love. The Vanishing Half will pull you into these twins’ histories– their insecurities and desires– and leave you wondering about Desiree and Stella, the way only the best books do, long after you’re finished reading the last page.”
— Eugenia V., Kids Events & Marketing Director
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
“This book is SO GOOD. Profound and insightful, PET naturally brings to life a diverse world that has moved itself past the era of “monsters”. The monsters are gone, and the systems that enabled them have been dismantled. So when a frightening creature springs to life from a painting and claims that one has escaped justice, no one but Jam believes. Using fantastic devices in a familiar world, Akwaeke Emezi explores the fear, denial, and action involved in exposing abuse. I love the world Emezi built–a utopic what-if setting that holds so much hope (and warning)–and I LOVE their protagonist Jam, a trans girl who prefers to speak in Sign, who finds a way to power past the fear and see the unseen.”
— Tomoko B., Graphic Designer
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson-Sexton
Wilkerson-Sexton visited Austin as part of the cohort of author’s that descended on Austin during the 2019 Texas Book Festival celebration. Her powerful second novel really spoke to a few of our booksellers.
“The Revisioners is a captivating read about multiple generations of intriguing women. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton tackles big subjects with such nuance, her incisiveness is striking. This combined with the fact that she never lets her characters lose their truth makes her a powerful storyteller who everybody should be reading.”
— Consuelo H., Adult Books Buyer
“The impalement of time and circumstance are the bones of this epic intergenerational story. The women in this novel are faced with irresistible opportunities and haunting sacrifices. Josephine, a past runaway slave during the start of Jim Crow and KKK uprisings, is now a grandmother trying to make the best decisions for her family. From present time, Ava is a single mother in New Orleans who is wanting to create better opportunities for her son. The Revisioners, seeks to give grace to these Black conjurers gifted with the power to create growth and the wisdom to pass this on to the next; closing this book, I was filled with gratitude for my Black predecessors. I was reminded that our histories will never be erased, because we are the living proof of our ancestors radical existence.”
— Raven R., former BookPeople bookseller
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Patsy is a bookseller favorite and winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction.
“[Nicole Dennis-Benn is] an incredible writer, telling stories in a unique, beautiful way. Patsy is a wonderful character — full of complications and struggles and introspective tendencies — and the alternate perspectives of Patsy and her daughter Tru works seamlessly to illustrate just how hard life can be, in America or in Jamaica.”
— Abby F., former BookPeople Events & Marketing Manager
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
We love a good debut release here at BookPeople. The Girl with the Louding Voice is no exception.
“The Girl with the Louding Voice is one of those ‘once you start, you can’t stop’ books. I read it so fast…just dove right in and came out the other side with a desire to shout about this book. I came into it having just reread Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Generally, I dislike making one-to-one comparisons between authors but like Hurston, Daré’s work has that singular poetic vernacular voice that is authentic and makes for powerful storytelling. Combine that with Adunni, who is resilient, brave, imperfect character looking to do the right things for herself and others, and you have an amazing novel, debut or otherwise.”
— Christine H., Bookseller
Lot by Bryan Washington
Houston native, Bryan Washington’s, breakout story collection took our community of booksellers and readers by storm. It, like Patsy, was honored at the Lambda Literary Awards, winning the Best Gay Fiction prize.
“I LOVED this beautifully written collection and I can’t wait to read more from Bryan Washington!”
— Eugenia V., Kids Events & Marketing Director
“Bryan Washington explores the myriad experiences of families and friends in the margins of the Houston-area. These interconnected stories follow an unnamed narrator as he navigates an adolescence of poverty while confronting his own identity as a gay man. Meanwhile, in the periphery, we encounter unfaithful spouses, scorned lovers, drug dealers, sex workers and witness the indelible effects of gentrification on those on the lowest rungs. Lot is a little bit like Jesus’ Son with some optimism, a panoramic view of a city’s invisible population and a writer’s blazing debut on the literary scene..”
— Uriel P., Events Logistics Manager
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
We’ve been under Samantha Irby’s spell for years now and her latest may just be her best yet (!!!).
“Queen Samantha Irby returns with another hilarious, almost absurdly relatable collection of essays in Wow, No Thank You! Whether she’s sharing recipes for children’s undeserving taste palates or destroying a hotel room with heavy period flow (love that Austin played a small part in Sam’s story), Irby’s latest might just be her best. This is one of those books that folks will tell you not to read in public, but I say DO IT. You’ll find yourself cackling shamelessly and end up introducing onlookers to their new favorite writer, the one and only Samantha Irby. WOW, YES THANK YOU, ALWAYS MORE.”
— Eugenia V., Kids Events & Marketing Director
Go Ahead In the Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib
Poet Laureate of all things music and culture, Hanif Abdurraqib’s 2019 release, Go Ahead In the Rain, is a perfect mix of memoir and music criticism.
“For every generation, there are usually only a handful of bands that can truly be described as the proverbial “the only band that matters.” And, in the 90s, one of that handful was A Tribe Called Quest. And in his fantastic book Go Ahead In the Rain, poet Hanif Abdurraqib captures those never-to-be repeated heady days “..when I was a teenager/before I had status and before I had a pager.” I loved this book and I cried with this book. RIP Phife Dawg.”
— Joe T., Buyer
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Everything Roxane Gay writes should be essential reading.
“There are no easy answers, there are no great, uplifting platitudes, there is nothing that isn’t exactly as it is in this bizarre, cruel, sometimes surprising world of ours to be found in Roxane Gay’s memoir of the body. Gay isn’t interested in grand conclusions or making us cheer for her bravery (though we will) — she’s interested in telling us what happened to her, what’s she seen, and how it’s affected her life and the way she lives it in as clear and honest of language as possible. Thank god for it.”
— Molly M., Inventory Manager
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
An Indie Next Pick, 2019 Kirkus Prize honoree, and winner of Best Gay Memoir/Biography, How We Fight For Our Lives, is Saeed Jones’ “bracingly honest memoir” (New York Times Book Review) that gripped us from page one.
“This book is so beautiful, I wish I could keep the memory of each page. In How We Fight for Our Lives, Saeed Jones unearths the complications of being black and queer in the most devastating and loving ways possible–exploring self- and familial-alienation, internalized oppression, and redefining masculinity. This book, in so many ways, speaks to a line from Audre Lorde’s The Black Unicorn, “for those of us who cannot indulge/ the passing dreams of choice/ who love in doorways coming and going/ in the hours between dawns.” It is a litany for survival–it will leave you broken, will move you deeply, and it will affirm you. This book does not shy away from the complex, and moves beyond easily commercialized narratives of queer people. Jones works through his relationship to intimacy, what it means to love (and come into) oneself, and acknowledges that this process is not one dimensional. He also gives a stunning homage to the poets and poetry that keep(s) us safe, that speak(s) to us. What a blessing of a book.”
— Ona M., Bookseller
These titles and more are available to order from BookPeople today. Please note that some titles may be backordered, but we are working hard to get them in your hands as soon as possible.
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