12 Best Books of 2023
It's been a great year for literature. From stellar debuts, and follow-ups that undoubtedly beat the sophomore slump, to affecting poetry and life-altering memoirs. Here is our list of 12 best books of the year, as seen on our monthly TBRs. Honey& Spice- Bolu Babalola
Our May cover star stuns in debut novel Honey& Spice, winning the first ever TikTok Book of the Year award and garnering fans worldwide. This deliciously adorable YA romcom chronicles the love story between radio host Kiki Banjo and handsome newcomer Malaki Korede. Set on a university campus, Babalola explores love, forgiveness and growing pains against a backdrop of the socio-political ecosystem of a British uni campus. A Spell of Good Things- Ayòbámi Adébáyò
A strong follow up from an author who is steadily becoming an African literary juggernaut. Parallel stories converge when two Nigerian families living very distinct realities of the country, become inextricably linked. Adébáyò offers cutting insight on power, corruption, the haves and have-nots and the incredible difference between the two. The List- Yomi Adegoke British-Nigerian writer Yomi Adegoke delivers sharp commentary on anonymity and digital court rooms, rape culture and accountability, and love's limitations in debut novel. Inspired partly by the real life circulation of a crowdsourced spreadsheet that went viral in 2017, The List narrates the dissolution of a young Black British couple Ola and Michael, after Michael's name is added to a list next to assault allegations. This summer debut is being currently being developed for TV by HBO, BBC and A24. Small Worlds- Caleb Azuma Nelson
Nelson offers another lyrical masterwork in his sophomore offering. Small Worlds dazzles with music motifs and sensory affecting description as it explores love, community (ones we are born into and those we build) and coming of age. The novel is at its best when Nelson leans onto the narrator’s interiority as a means to view the rest of the world he crafts in the novel. Nightbloom- Peace Adzo Medie Ada's Realm- Sharon Dodua Otoo
This piece of speculative fiction explores womanhood and femininity through time. Imaginative and cleverly executed, Otoo weaves together distinct- but inextricably linked- versions of a time travelling protagonist Ada, each time as a different woman. This is a story of injustice as much as it about power, and hope as much as it is about pain. Mandem- Edited by Iggy London
Edited by award winning artist Iggy London, this collection of essays examines, gender expression, role models, queerness, relationships and many other themes that cut across Black British masculinity. Featuring the likes of Sope Soetan, Yomi Sode, and Christian Adofo, this collection is not only expansive in points of view and experience but also in writing style and flair. Maame- Jessica George
Jessica George pens a gorgeously simple coming of age story of a young British Ghanian woman, Maddie as she stumbles through building a life that fulfils her. She is grieving her late father, weathering her relationship with an absent but overbearing mother, all while trying to hit supposed adult milestones like building a career and dating. George does a brilliant job of teasing out (what often feels like) the frustratingly impossible task of adulting successfully.
How To Say Babylon- Safiya Sinclair
A stunning memoir on growing up in a rigid Rastafarian household under her father's strict leadership, the influence she has sought to keep and the impact she had to shed. It is also a story about women, particularly black women, and the violently oppressive systems to be lived in and navigated without reprieve. Lastly, it is also about hope and courage and the creative resilience it takes to build something better for yourself. Here Again Now- Okechukwu Nzelu
Nzelu offers a moving ode to father and son relationships in Here Again Now. With a tender hand Nzelu walks us through love lost and found, grief, and queerness and black British masculinity.
Manorism- Yomi Ṣode In this poetry collection, Yomi Sode gives language to what is often silenced. With clarity, curiousness and dexterity, Sode walks us through becoming, grief, building yourself back again. Sometimes hard to stomach, but even harder to put down. It's Not That Radical- Mikaela Loach
Loach tackles what it arguably the most pertinent issue of our times, climate justice. In this non-fiction, she expertly draws the links between capitalism, racism and the misrepresentation of climate change in mainstream media. It’s Not That Radical reminds us that without climate justice there can be no collective liberation.
It's been a great year for literature. From stellar debuts, and follow-ups that undoubtedly beat the sophomore slump, to affecting poetry...