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Young, gifted and Black – the need to read our winning writers

Afro Reads is a book club for the black community to review and discuss literature from Africa and the diaspora, as well as other contemporary books of interest. The club was launched in 2016 and has since covered 30+ titles. The books range from the classics such as James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room to the contemporary, Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, to non-fiction such as Akala’s Native.

AfroReads Bookclub2

Black authors have been successful on the literature podium winning prizes in the 2020 British Book Awards. Candice Carty-Williams debut novel, Queenie won book of the year at the event. Carty-Williams tweeted that she felt "proud" but "sad" to become the first black author to win this prize. She was joined on the winner's podium by Bernardine Evaristo, who was named author of the year. Her Booker-winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other, won fiction book of the year.

In June, Reni Eddo-Lodge also become the first black British author to take the overall No 1 spot in the UK’s official book charts. Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race topped Nielsen BookScan’s UK top 50 in the week to 13 June. This makes her the first black British author to take the top slot since Nielsen began recording book sales in 2001. Both Queenie and Girl, Woman, Other books have been recently read by members of the Afro Reads book club.

Afro Reads is a book club for the black community to review and discuss literature from Africa and the diaspora, as well as other contemporary books of interest. The club was launched in 2016 and has since covered 30+ titles. The books range from the classics such as James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room to the contemporary, Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, to non-fiction such as Akala’s Native.

According to Afro Read’s founder, Sandra Wilson “I started this group because I love reading and talking to people, but I never had the opportunity to fully-focus on black literature. I also felt that it would be great to share this experience with like-minded people. We have superb and lively conversations and discussion about the issues these books highlight.

“There’s a wealth and depth of classic and contemporary literature from Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. Often those authors are writing about the same issues of concern for today’s generation. At Afro Reads, we’re just tapping into that knowledge and understanding.”

Wilson adds, “We are a friendly, welcoming group of people who are curious and share a love of reading.“

The club has invited established authors to discuss their work. Earlier in the year, Kerry Young the author of Pao and Gloria spent an afternoon, talking about her books and life as a writer. Previously, Afro Read welcomed Angie Le Mar who discussed her life experience, growing up in the UK. Le Mar also discussed the creative processes required as an award winning comedienne, TV and radio presenter, speaker and writer.

Before Corvid 19 lockdown Afro Reads met at Palmers Green Library. However, the club have moved with the times and meet using Zoom technology. Surprisingly lockdown has enabled the book club to increase its reach, with readers logging in from across the UK, New York and the Caribbean.

To find out more please visit Afro Read’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AfroReads/ or on Instagram search afroreadsbookclub Alternatively please feel free to contact Sandra Wilson at afroreadsbookclub@gmail.com