Amistad Books is encouraging readers to purchase any two books by Black writers between June 14th and June 20th. The goal is to blackout bestsellers lists with Black voices and demonstrate the power of Black publishing. We’ve gathered some bookseller favorites in case you needed some ideas. We also encourage you to buy from a Black-owned bookstore (or two)—check out the full list of Black-owned indies here. And if you’re in Austin and would like to support a local business, we recommend Black Pearl Books!
Lot by Bryan Washington
“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
“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
Luster by Raven Leilani
“It’s impossible not to see a little bit of yourself in Edie, the twenty-three year old narrator of Luster — a wayward millennial, victim of abject rejection, losing a grip on the tattered rungs of a faulty job market and wading in a romantic cesspool.
She is frustratingly careless, promiscuous, an aspiring artist trapped in the crosshairs of cutthroat office politics. And when Edie loses her job, life spirals uncontrollably, but its her involvement in an open marriage that proves to be both her undoing and the key to a visceral re-awakening.
The writing is precise, and Raven Leilani exhibits an exhilarating command of language, spilling her guts to tell a story about art, class, race, and power. Luster is depraved, dark, funny, and so deeply in touch with the modern human condition.”
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
“This novel held an ambiance of vulnerability that left me shaking. Taylor’s writing is the kind you feel coursing through your body and mind, molding into parts of yourself you can’t quite describe. The visuals were as sharp as a Scorsese shot and as radical as a Spike Lee film.” – Raven
Black Card by Chris L. Terry
“Chris L. Terry’s hilariously unnerving novel, ‘Black Card,’ grapples with questions of racial identity, pitting one mixed-race, punk-rocking barista against an alarmingly racist circle of friends and strangers, a police investigation that views him as the prime suspect of a violent crime, and the existential threat of having lost his Black Card, the lone tie to his Blackness.
‘Black Card’ is probing, revelatory and deftly toes it’s way through the murky waters of the bi-racial experience. Chris L. Terry is infinitely wise and the heir apparent to the likes of Paul Beatty and Percival Everett.”
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
“The Wedding Date is funny, sexy, and smart, starring two well-rounded and realistic characters with just enough fantasy. I’d love to spend a Friday night drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers with my girl Alexa Monroe.” – Eugenia
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson-Sexton
“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
Go Ahead In the Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib
“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
“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
“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 are just a select number of bookseller favorites by Black authors, but you can see a more comprehensive list of recommended reads on our Antiracist resources list, Celebrating Black Voices reading lists, and all throughout our website.
Our online webstore is operational again, so you can start directing those orders to bookpeople.com. And be sure to show your support on social media by using the #BlackoutBestsellerList tag all over.