Evaristo spotlights 20 Black women writers for International Women's Day

Evaristo spotlights 20 Black women writers for International Women's Day

Booker-winning writer Bernardine Evaristo has marked International Women’s Day by curating a top 20 list of recently published Black British writers.

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman (Penguin), Ordinary People by Diane Evans (Vintage) and Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze) feature on the list of what Evaristo referred to as “womxn” writers, a term used to explicitly include trans women and non-binary writers. 

The list, which also features rising stars like Theresa Lola, Irenosen Okojie and Alexandra Sheppard, was unveiled at the Waterstones Bristol Galleries branch and has been made available in libraries across Bristol.

Evaristo explained: "Last year was particularly fruitful for writing by black womxn, with several début authors of non-fiction in particular, which is why they are well-represented in this list. It’s a field that’s been arid up to this point, signalling an absence of our conversations from the intellectual culture. Each book explores its own individual cultural territory, whether that of the natural world, or a fictionalised memoir of a young actress, or a recalibration of feminism through an African prism. There still aren’t many of us writing novels or publishing poetry or children’s books, but the commercial and critical success of many of these titles makes me hopeful for the future."

The curated list’s launch is part of a Bristol Literary Takeover, spearheaded by communications agency Words of Colour, to elevate the voices of black British emerging and mid-career women writers outside of London. It includes a career development workshop, to be run by Evaristo on 10th March at Bristol Old Vic.

Joy Francis, founder of Words of Colour Productions, said: "We are excited to be launching the list in Bristol, our second home and where there is a dynamic creative community led by womxn of colour. The idea that black womxn writers are a niche market with a limited readership couldn’t be further from the truth. Bernardine winning the Booker Prize, with the rights to Girl, Woman, Other being sold in 23 territories around the world, is a testament to that. The fact that books by Black British womxn are attracting a diverse international audience, and are inspiring more black book clubs and book bloggers of colour in the UK, is a wake up call to publishers and booksellers. Bernardine’s curated list is one to savour—and to build upon."

The full list of books, arranged in alphabetical order, are:

Character Breakdown by Zawe Ashton (Vintage) 

Surge by Jay Bernard (Chatto and Windus) 

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman (Penguin) 

The Grassling by Elizabeth Jane Burnett (Allen Lane) 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze) 

The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Penguin) 

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri (Penguin) 

Darling by Rachel Edwards (Fourth Estate) 

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards (Pan) 

Ordinary People by Diana Evans (Vintage) 

I Will Not Be Erased by Gal-Dem (Walker Books) 

Freedom by Catherine Johnson (Scholastic) 

Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson (Headline Review) 

Taking Up Space by Chelsea Kwakye And Ore Ogunbi (Merky Books) 

In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Cassava Republic Press) 

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children’s Books) 

In Search of Equilibrium by Theresa Lola (Nine Arches Press) 

Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie (Dialogue Books) 

Sensuous Knowledge by Minna Salami (Zed Books) 

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard (Scholastic)