Looking for new authors to explore? Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve compiled a list of five awesome Black female writers! They’re all fiction writers, but the themes that you’ll find in their books are extremely relevant to the real world. So, let’s dive right in and discover your new favorite book!
Octavia Butler: one of the classics
If you enjoy science fiction, Octavia Butler may be the author for you! She won an astonishing array of awards, including Hugos and Nebulas, and was the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship! Her Afrofuturistic books delve deep in moral themes, such as the criticism of current hierarchies, the remaking of humankind, and more. Among stories of aliens and heroes, you’ll find a detailed critique of our own society, and a deep analysis of how humans work with (or, sadly, against) each other.
Kindred, one of her most popular books, is a bit different in that it’s not really science fiction. Butler described it as a kind of grim fantasy, which makes sense given its plot: an African-American woman time-travels and finds herself in a plantation, before the American Civil War, and meets her ancestors. It’s a novel that explores the pre-war dynamics of slavery from the eyes of a modern-day woman. Definitely, a huge recommendation if you are into social critique and a stunning, poignant read!
Black children’s fiction with Jewel Parker Rhodes!
Didn’t you hear? Kids’ books aren’t just for kids anymore! If you enjoy fiction for younger readers, look no further than Jewel Parker Rhodes! Although she writes adult fiction too, her stories for children are just wonderful.
Black Brother, Black Brother is a book about two black brothers… except that one of them presents as white. His classmates accept him, while they bully the other brother. This is a story about institutionalized racism, stereotypes, and double standards, told from the perspective of a young black boy. If you’re anything like me, you’ll cry your eyes out.
It’s important to educate and raise awareness about these issues among children, so the next generation might inherit fewer of our prejudices and problems! And Jewel Parker Rhodes’s books are great for that! She goes deep into these themes while keeping the story accessible enough for children.
N.K. Jemisin, one of the best Black female writers!
N.K. Jemisin is another writer who mainly focuses on fantasy and science fiction. Her amazing stories touch on a variety of themes, such as cultural conflict and oppression. The Broken Earth trilogy, her most famous work, has won three Hugo awards in a row, one for each novel! AMAZING!
These books take place in a far-future, post-apocalyptic Earth (hence the name of the series!) —and I won’t go into spoiler territory here, but the magic system is pretty cool too. Society in this world is divided into a caste system, according to the different abilities a person can hold. And it’s through this caste system that Jemisin draws a parallel with the real world and our own discrimination issues. These books are simply an amazing read, and if you don’t believe me, check out thousands of 5-star reviews online!
Tomi Adeyemi, great Young Adult fantasy!
Tomi Adeyemi is a relatively new name in the professional writing world, but her arrival hasn’t gone unnoticed! Her debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone made it to the first position of the New York Times bestseller list, and with reason! Through the eyes of a heroine trying to restore magic in her land, she examines themes of oppression, racism, and slavery.
This is only the first book of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy, and the second book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, was published last December. This Young Adult series is set in the fantasy kingdom of Orïsha, highly influenced by Adeyemi’s Yoruba heritage. This can be seen in multiple places such as the magical spells, which use words from the Yoruba language —pretty cool, huh?
Nnedi Okorafor, another great YA writer!
Nnedi Okorafor is another fantasy author who uses this genre to look at real social issues in an extremely insightful way. She deals with topics like inequality, violence, corruption, and many more, and her works are deeply inspired by her Nigerian and, more specifically, Igbo heritage.
Award-winning Akata Warrior is one of her latest books and the sequel to Akata Witch. In this book, Sunny and her friends struggle with their own identities and their places in the world. It’s a story of self-acceptance in an intolerant world —very relevant to the current times!
More Black, female writers?
Have you read any of the authors of this list? If so, what did you think about them? And feel free to recommend any Black, female writers we didn’t feature in this list! There are many creative people out there, and their work deserves to be spread! So go ahead and leave a comment —I’ll be very happy to take a look at their works!
You can also check out our compilation of 5 amazing black creatives!