The Emperor's Babe

It's Black History Month in the UK and I decided this year I should finally get round to reading some of those incredible stories that I haven't quite made time for yet. As someone who primarily leans towards fiction titles, this year I'm going to push myself to read more non-fiction and have set myself a list of 5 books - a mix of fiction and non-fiction from black author's and exploring black history - to try and get through before the end of the month. Here they are:

1) The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings by Olaudah Equiano

As the forerunner of the so-dubbed 'slave narratives,' it felt like this one had to be on the list. The book recounts Equiano's kidnapping from Africa at the age of 10, his service as a slave to a British Navy officer for ten years and his life after he bought his freedom in 1766.

2) The Emperor's Babe by Bernadine Evaristo

I just read Girl, Woman, Other and was way more taken with it than I expected to be. I loved her unusual formatting and writing style and thought her characterisation was exceptional, so when I saw The Emperor's Babe was the story of a Nubian teen married off to a 'fat old Roman', I couldn't say no.

3) Black and British by David Olusoga

Longlisted for the Orwell Prize, award-winning historian ad broadcaster David Olusoga gives us his heavyweight title, exploring Britain's history with the people of Africa and the Caribbean from the Roman era to the modern day.

4) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglas

This is the autobiography of Frederick Douglas (1818-1895), a man who was born into slavery in Maryland and escaped to Massachusetts in 1838 where he was an abolitionist and campaigner for women's rights. This book describes his life as a slave and how he fought to educate himself.

5) Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and the author of one of my absolute favorite books, Kintu, I've been meaning to read her short story collection Manchester Happened for a long time now and with her next novel The Last Woman new out, it's about time I got around to it! Manchester Happened re-imagines the stories of Ugandans who chose to make England their home and explores the immigrant experience.

People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them

James Baldwin

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