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7 Must-Read Books from People of Color

Throughout the years, some of the best books have been penned by people of color. Although literature, like everything else, is dominated by white authors, these authors of color have effortlessly made a name for themselves despite immense societal pressure.

Here is a list of 7 books by such authors of color that you must add to your library.

1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

The first book in a series of four, An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, is set in a world much like Ancient Rome. It follows the story of Laia of Serra, a Scholar girl – who under the dominion of the Martials have been forbidden to gain even the most basic education. We are also given an insight into the life of Martial Elias Veturius, and his path to be a Mask – the deadliest soldier in the empire.

An Ember in the Ashes is not an easy story to read. Tahir weaves the supernatural into the ordinary to give us a tragically beautiful tale. It is a story that speaks, in vivid detail, of the horrors of war and the sacrifices that come with courage; it is the story of every oppressed child in the world.

Buy An Ember in the Ashes from Amazon.

2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

As beautiful and tragic as all of Arundhati Roy’s novels are, The God of Small Things is the story of fraternal twins, Rahel and Esthappen, who use their imagination to make their lives feel better.

Although it starts off innocently, it soon unravels the terrible effects of the caste system and Communism in mid-1960’s Kerala. With its haunting storyline and tragic ending, The God of Small Things has gripped the hearts of readers from across the world, and awarded 1997’s coveted Booker Prize.

Get the book here.

3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, The Color Purple, has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for its poignant depiction of issues like domestic and sexual abuse and the difficulties of being an African-American woman in the mid-twentieth century.

We are taken through the lives and struggles of two sisters who were separated at birth, Celie and Nettie, in a series of letters – each one as painful and heartrending as the next.

Get the book from Amazon.

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini, the author who penned The Kite Runner, has the extraordinary ability to portray the realities of war within the lives of his fictional characters.

A Thousand Splendid Suns talks about hope and tragedy, love and loss, and explores – in remarkable depth – the sisterly relationship between two women, Mariam and Laila, and the lengths women will go to in order to protect the people they love.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is available here.

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, follows the apparently uneventful life of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old girl from a poor neighborhood – that is, until she witnesses the shooting of her perfectly innocent childhood friend, Khalil, by white policemen.

Caught up in the middle of court proceedings and protests, she soon begins to realize the significance of each word she utters – as the sole witness to Khalil’s murder. The Hate U Give is a timely read that focuses on the brutality of the law towards Black people, and the impact of activism.

Want to read The Hate U Give? Get it here.

6. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Originally published in Japanese in 1994, The Memory Police is told from the perspective of our unnamed narrator, who resides on an unnamed island where things continuously disappear… and, with them, the memory of those things, too, cease to exist. Ships, roses, birds, maps – they’re all taken away, slowly, by the sinister Memory Police, working under a totalitarian government. 

The Memory Police is a masterful tale about forgetfulness and the human desire to record memories, against all odds.

The audiobook is available on Amazon.

7. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami’s most famous book is, perhaps, Kafka on the Shore, where cats talk and fish fall from the sky and unaged soldiers from World War II live in forests… but that’s not all.

The story follows the perspectives of two people: Kafka Tamura (a teenage boy who runs away from home) and Nakata (an old man whose mind never quite came home from the war). This book is a metaphor full of brilliant concepts the human mind can barely wrap itself around.

Find the book on here.

Sharika Hafeez

Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.

September 9, 2021

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