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March's Bookshelf

Themes: LGBTQIA+, Family, Christianity, Coming of age, Self-acceptance, Love

Summary: When Obiefuna's father witnesses an intimate moment between his teenage son and the family's apprentice, newly arrived from the nearby village, he banishes Obiefuna to a Christian boarding school marked by strict hierarchy and routine, devastating violence. Utterly alienated from the people he loves, Obiefuna begins a journey of self-discovery and blossoming desire, while his mother Uzoamaka grapples to hold onto her favourite son, her truest friend.

Interweaving the perspectives of Obiefuna and his mother Uzoamaka, as they reach towards a future that will hold them both, BLESSINGS is an elegant and exquisitely moving story of love and loneliness. Asking how we can live freely when politics reaches into our hearts and lives, as well as deep into our consciousness, it is a stunning, searing debut.

Themes: LGBTQIA+, Brotherhood, Love, Sex and Sexuality, Culture, Resistance

Summary: In this landmark work, Jason Okundaye meets an elder generation of Black gay men and finds a spirited community full of courage, charisma and good humour, hungry to tell its past – of nightlife, resistance, political fights, loss, gossip, sex, romance and vulgarity. Through their conversations he seeks to reconcile the Black and gay narratives of Britain, narratives frequently cleaved as distinct and unrelated.

Revolutionary Acts renders a singular portrait of Britain from the perspective of those buffeted by the winds of marginalisation and discrimination. It is a portrait marked by resilience and self-determination, inspired by the love and beauty Black men have found in each other.

Themes: Speculative Fiction, African mythology, Love, Sexuality, Adventure

Summary: Shigidi is a disgruntled and demotivated nightmare god in the Orisha spirit company, reluctantly answering prayers of his few remaining believers to maintain his existence long enough to find his next drink. When he meets Nneoma, a sort-of succubus with a long and secretive past, everything changes for him.Together, they attempt to break free of his obligations and the restrictions that have bound him to his godhood and navigate the parameters of their new relationship in the shadow of her past. But the elder gods that run the Orisha spirit company have other plans for Shigidi, and they are not all aligned—or good.From the boisterous streets of Lagos to the swanky rooftop bars of Singapore and the secret spaces of London, Shigidi and Nneoma will encounter old acquaintances, rival gods, strange creatures, and manipulative magicians as they are drawn into a web of revenge, spirit business, and a spectacular heist across two worlds that will change Shigidi’s understanding of himself forever and determine the fate of the Orisha spirit company.

Themes: Memoir, LGBTQIA+, Drag, Pop Culture, Family, Self-acceptance

Summary: From international drag superstar and pop culture icon RuPaul, comes his most revealing and personal work to date—a brutally honest, surprisingly poignant, and deeply intimate memoir of growing up Black, poor, and queer in a broken home to discovering the power of performance, found family, and self-acceptance. A profound introspection of his life, relationships, and identity, The House of Hidden Meanings is a self-portrait of the legendary icon on the road to global fame and changing the way the world thinks about drag.

Themes: Love, Romance, Race, Colonialism, Identity

Summary: They already share a surname. But will they share a future?

When Layla and Andy first meet, they can't believe they have the same surname. It feels like fate, almost too romantic to be true. But Sera, Layla's best friend, has her doubts about Andy. As the pair fall deeper and deeper in love, Sera becomes more and more vocal about Layla settling down with a white boy. And then, only a few weeks before their wedding, Layla makes a devastating discovery about their shared name.

What seemed like a fairy-tale romance is rapidly derailed. In part propelled by Sera's rising anger, Layla begins to uncover parts of her history and identity that she had never imagined -- or, perhaps, had simply learnt to ignore. And now, she faces an impossible choice, between past and future, friendship and marriage, the personal and the political.

Themes: YA, Coming of age, Mystery-thriller, LGBTQIA+, Academia

Summary: Sade Hussein is starting her third year of high school, this time at the prestigious Alfred Nobel Academy boarding school. After being home-schooled all her life and feeling like a magnet for misfortune, she’s not sure what will happen. What she doesn’t expect though is for her roommate Elizabeth to disappear after Sade’s first night. Or for people to think she had something to do with it. With rumors swirling around her, Sade catches the attention of the most popular girls in school – collectively known as the ‘Unholy Trinity’ – and they bring her into their fold. Between learning more about them - especially Persephone, who Sade finds herself drawn to - playing catch-up in class, and trying to figure out what happened to Elizabeth, Sade has a lot on her plate. It doesn’t help that she’s already dealing with grief from the many tragedies in her family.

And then a student is found dead. The more Sade investigates, the more she realizes there’s more to Alfred Nobel Academy and its students than she realized. Secrets lurk around every corner and beneath every surface…secrets that rival even her own.

Themes: Family, Grief, Home, Sacrifice, Caribbean culture

Summary: A novel of fractured family and the search to protect–or discard–what unites them, this story traces one older woman's decision to uphold the wishes of those who have departed over her sisters’ objections.  When Pearline abruptly leaves her life in Brooklyn and returns to her childhood home in Jamaica to care for her dying father, Rupert, she leaves her grown daughter to cope, overwhelmed, with her granddaughters back in Brooklyn.  But Pearline isn’t prepared for Rupert’s puzzling deathbed wish that she find siblings she hasn’t seen in 60 years. What is revealed in the wake of Rupert’s death is the secret that splintered the family. Moving through time and place, The House of Plain Truth charts the family's traumatic past in Cuba, where Rupert had sought a better life and where three of Pearline's siblings remained when the rest of the family left for Jamaica. Everything Pearline learns challenges what she knows about her family and the place she has always called home. In lush, lyrical prose inspired by the author's own family story, this novel explores the divided loyalties within a family, the true meaning of home, and what one woman has to sacrifice to get what she ultimately wants.

Themes: Short story, Identity, African culture

Summary: The leading African literary award, known as the African Booker, named after the Booker Prize founder, Michael Caine. Now entering its eighteenth year, the Caine Prize for African Writing is Africas leading literary prize, and is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere. This collection brings together seventeen short storiesthe five 2017 shortlisted stories, along with stories written at the 2017 Caine Prize Writers Workshop that took place in Tanzania. The collection showcases young writers who go on to publish successful novels.The shortlisted writers include: Gods Children are Little Broken Things by Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria); The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away by Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan), translated by Max Shmookler; Bush Baby by Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria);Who Will Greet You at Home by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria); The Virus by Magogodi oa Mphela Makhene (South Africa). The collection also includes stories written by the following authors at the workshop that took place in Tanzania: Last years winner, Lidudumalingani (South Africa), Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya), Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe), Cheryl Ntumy (Botswana/Ghana), Daniel Rafiki (Rwanda), Darla Rudakubana (Rwanda), Agazit Abate (Ethiopia).


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