By Emily croft, Staff writer
With Black History Month coming to an end and Women’s History Month about to begin, it is only fitting to recommend a couple of novels to read by Black women authors. These popular novels focus on racial inequality and tell different stories of Black women and the struggles they have faced.
The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
Up first is a newer release, but it will rock your world nonetheless. Bennett’s novel takes place in the late 1960s and addresses the idea of racial passing. The novel follows two sisters and their varying stories. Readers enter the mind of a woman living a White-passing lifestyle and see how that changes the trajectory of her family. The novel also invites discussion among readers about the difficulties for those who did not or could not pass as White, along with the stigma from Black communities surrounding passing. Bennett’s genius novel is a rollercoaster of emotion that intertwines subplots of love and friendships.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Let’s go back in time to the Harlem Renaissance when Zora Neale Hurston shocked the world with her incredible writing. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watch God is a simple classic you can’t go wrong with reading. The story is about a woman in the early 20th century returning to rural Florida and reminisces on where she has been and what she has lived through since she had originally left.
The story encapsulates love, loss, sorrow and a main character who refuses to give up when life is hard for her. Hurston beautifully connects the story with a southern Black dialect that would’ve been relevant to the time period as a way of conserving the culture within the story itself. I could read this book again and again and never get tired of it.
The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
I love this book for many reasons, with the first being its epistolary format. The main character of the novel, Celie, narrates the story as she writes letters to God. The book feels realistic as the readers witness firsthand the abusive life Celie had growing up and witness it firsthand. With this firsthand experience, there are depictions of power-based violence and some language that is more explicit than the other recommendations in this article, so consider that your warning before reading. I don’t think either of those inclusions takes away from the novel’s beauty, though, as Walker depicts life for young Black women in the early 1900s.
by Toni Morrison
I saved this one for last simply because Toni Morrison is a genius when it comes to writing, especially with this novel. Beloved takes us back to the 1850s, telling the story of an enslaved woman who has escaped from a plantation with her children. Along the way, the mother (Sethe) has to make difficult decisions in terms of how she is going to protect her children from the violence of the world in which they live. The main thing I love about this book is that it’s based on a true story about a woman named Margaret Garner, who had escaped from a plantation in Kentucky with her family until law enforcement caught up with them in Ohio.