In honor of Black History Month, the Wheelock College Library has put together this display celebrating the written works of black authors, poets, playwrights, essayist, journalists and activists. Though these books are in our display case, you can actually take them out. Just ask the Library Service Desk staff to bring them up
In the display case are works by the following authors: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Edwidge Danticat, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, Langston Hughes, Andre Lorde, and Toni Morrison.
Here are a few I wanted to highlight:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Adichie is a Nigerian author of several critically acclaimed books – including Americanah, last year’s summer reading book for Wheelock’s incoming first years. It tells the story of a young Nigerian woman, who immigrates to the US to study, and her observations and experiences of race and racism in America.
Ta-Nehisi Coates – American journalist and novelist, Coates, has been getting a lot of attention for his writings on the black experience. His latest book, Between the World and Me, gets checked out as soon as it’s checked back in. Between the World and Me is written as a letter to his son and imparts to him what it means to be black in the US, specifically about the pattern of violence against blacks, and the feeling of fear instilled in black men. If the book is checked out, I suggest you read his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, about Coates’s experiences growing up in Baltimore. As he is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, you can read many of his articles and essays online, including “The Case for Reparations” and “There is No Post-Racial America”.
Edwidge Danticat – Check out her book, Breath, Eyes, and Memory, which tells the story of a young Haitian girl, Sophie, who has just moved to New York, reuniting with a mother she’s never met. As the product of her mother’s violent rape, Sophie struggles to come to terms with her identity and to cope with her mother’s trauma. While we have several of Danticat’s books in the display case, her latest book is a picture book, Mama’s Nightingale: a Story of Immigration and Separation and we have it on the New Books Shelf. It tells the story of a mother and daughter who are separated when the mother is taken away for being an illegal immigrant.
Toni Morrison – Toni Morrison is best known for her poignant, and often times heartbreaking, novels, most notably The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and The Song of Solomon. Did you know she also wrote children’s books, non-fiction, essays, plays, and even a libretto for an opera? Check out her book, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, which talks about the role of blacks and blackness in early white American Literature. For something much less heavy, check out Little Cloud and Lady Wind. It is a story about Little Cloud who wants to do her own thing and doesn’t want to join in with the other clouds in scaring the earth with storms. However, this leaves her feeling lonely.
Walter Dean Myers – If you’re looking for young adult books by black authors, Walter Dean Myers is one of the most prolific, with several award-winners. His books tend to be centered about the black male youth experience. Monster is a story about the trial of a 16 year old teenage boy, who is being charged with felony murder. The format of the story is told in a mix of screenplay and journal entries, as the protagonist has an interest in filmmaking. You should also check out Fallen Angels, which is a story about a young soldier’s experiences in the Vietnam War.
Nikki Grimes – While her books are not in the display case, if you’re looking for children’s books by black authors, try Nikki Grimes. She has written many books, several of which have won awards. Because this is a post about writers, I will highlight her picture book, Words with Wings, about a girl who loves to daydream and finds an outlet for them in writing.