Just in time for the holidays, it's National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month. The brain child of author Carleen Brice, this genius new national "holiday" is gaining in popularity, even being mentioned in this week's New York Magazine. Now I know everybody wants to get involved and do the right thing, but may be a little unsure of just what book by a Black author to buy for their non-Black friends and family, so I've compiled a short list to get you started.
And if you yourself aren't Black, feel free to buy one of these for yourself as a gift, I'm sure that's okay too. So without further ado:
1. For the person who wants to read a sumptuous but intellectual, modern-day romance that crosses continents and challenges assumptions, buy Waiting in Vain by Jamaican novelist Colin Channer. Warning, this book is so good you'll immediately want to read all of Channer's subsequent books, of which there are many. And rumor has it, he is currently working on the sequel to Waiting in Vain. I can't wait!
2. For the person who loved Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude and really digs magical realism, buy Soul City by journalist turned novelist,Toure. A review from Booklist says this about the story: "Soul City is a place of uncertain geography founded by escaped slaves who could fly, a miraculous place where flowers grow out of the concrete, music is revered, and ailments are healed by doting grandmothers rather than doctors. According to Soul City legend, the escaped slaves blessed the citizens to live lives confined only by the boundaries of their dreams." This book is laugh-out-loud funny, sly and incredibly clever.
3. For the tween or early teen reader in your life, buy them a book that has nothing to do with vampires, rich White girls living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, or wizards. Try any book by award-winning novelist, Jacqueline Woodson. Two of my favorites are If You Come Softly (about a 15-year old interracial couple experiencing "first love") and Hush (about two young girls and what happens when their family has to enter the Witness Protection Program). Woodson writes sensitively about real issues that effect young people of all races and cultures.
4. For the memoir lover, of course you might want to buy Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain by Lori L. Tharps (sorry, shameless, I know), or try James McBride's incredible story of life with his single mother who spent her life "passing" as Black, but was/is really Jewish. That book is called, The Color of Water.
5. For the history buff, especially a young man looking for his manhood, buy The Autobiography of Malcolm X written by Alex Haley in 1965 and heralded as one of the 10 most important books of the 20th century by Time magazine. It is life changing and so inspirational. In fact, I think I'm going to read it again.
Happy shopping, gifting and reading!