Books

7 Of The Best Books By Women Of Colour In 2020

As selected by Owne publishing house founders, Mariam Jimoh & Reni Kosi Amayo.

When it comes to diversifying reading lists over the last year, there is much to celebrate. Stormzy's imprint Merky Books launched a new writer's prize; Candice Carty-Williams became the first Black author to win book of the year, with Queenie, at the British Book Awards; at the same awards, Bernadine Evaristo was the first Black writer to be named author of the year; and Reni Eddo-Lodge became the first Black British author to top the UK’s book charts with Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. We're hoping for more of the same in 2021, and as the next few months look set to be mainly spent indoors, there's no better time to get stuck into a good book. So, with that in mind, we decided to round up some of the best books by women of colour in 2020, to add to your reading list now.

There are many literary stars to choose from (always a good thing), hence we drafted in a couple of experts. Onwe is an independent publishing house and lifestyle brand run by, in their own words, "two cool Black women" – namely co-founders Mariam Jimoh, and Reni Kosi Amayo. The duo launched Onwe in 2018, aiming to offer a different narrative, and since then they've come across some seriously good page-turners.

The mission statement on their site reads: "We want to disrupt the creative industries by offering opportunities to voices we need to hear more from. At Onwe, we value three things above all: creator ownership, expressing marginalised ideas, and highlighting diverse voices. Our mission is to amplify diverse voices, and express under-represented ideologies across all creative industries via unique content, products and experiences."

Exclusively for Bustle, the pair shared their books of the year, all written and released by talented women of colour. From "addictive psychological thrillers" to worldly romance essays, check out their seven favourites below. And, watch their end of year reviews on Bustle's Instagram page.

Love In Colour By Bolu Babalola
WHSmith

From West Africa to Ancient Greece, Bolu Babalola's Love In Colour reimagines mythical tales from around the world. Written by a self-professed "romcomoisseur", Babalola gives age-old themes "deliciously modern twists". As Waterstones writes, this is a "celebration of love in all its forms".

The Vanishing Half By Brit Bennet
WHSmith

Though identical twins, the Vignes sisters live extremely different lives — even adopting different racial identities. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett manages to tackle the complex themes of race, identity, and American history, all wrapped up in a mesmerising story about family and relationships.

Raybearer By Jordan Ifueko
Waterstones

New York Times bestseller Raybearer is a West African-inspired fantasy novel by Jordan Ifueko – yes, it's YA, but we'd argue you're never to old. It tells the story of Tarsai who longs for the warmth of a family, but is raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as "The Lady". After she's sent to the capital of the global empire, she forms a bond that "both unites and destroys its members." It's a sinister, bewitching, and completely captivating read.

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, Clarissa Goenawan
Amazon

Set in contemporary Japan, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida focuses on the "mysterious suicide of a young woman", and the people she leaves behind. Written by acclaimed Singaporean author Clarissa Goenawan, the novel tells a haunting tale of secrets, inner turmoil, and the search for answers.

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Waterstones

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was long-listed for the Aspen Words Literary Prize 2020. Set in a small Ugandan village, it tells the story Kirabo, a young, headstrong woman who finds that "what it means to become a woman in a family, a community and a country determined to silence her will take all the courage she has."

A Song Of Wraths & Ruin By Roseanne A. Brown
Amazon

If you're looking for another fantasy fix, Roseanne A. Brown's debut novel A Song Of Wraths And Ruin is brimming with magic. Inspired by West African folklore, it tells the story of a "grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee" who find themselves on a collision course to murder each other. However, an attraction between the two develops along the way...