The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

African American & Black

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

A black professor uses his own son in a study comparing him to ACMs (American Caucasian Males) in “Control Negro.” A single mother lists what to do when “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.” A young woman changes herself in an attempt to leave behind her past. An immigrant widowed father finds himself distanced from his children. And, a group of Charlottesville neighbors flee white suprematists seeking refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home. Each story examines what happens when “home” is not very hospitable. This collection—the characters and the writing will stay with me. An emotional and brilliant must read.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, (List Price: $26.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250807151, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kelley Barnes, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Refractive Africa by Will Alexander

These odes to African intellectuals by Will Alexander are so rich in imagery and sound that every line has something you’ve never read before. I’m not kidding! Refractive Africa is of the highest caliber of poetry on offer in these times.

Refractive Africa by Will Alexander, (List Price: $16.95, New Directions, 9780811230278, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Perishing by Natashia Deón

From the first page, Natasha Deón is successful in hooking her audience to the strange and unique journey of Lou. Upon waking up naked in an alley, Lou is confused but feels as if this is not the first time this has happened. With no memory, Lou is placed into a foster home where she flourishes and eventually goes on to grow on her own as an adult. From start to finish, this book has readers on the edge of their seat trying to piece together the information they are receiving from both narrators – Lou and Sarah. Extremely compelling, thought-provoking , and deep, Deón has created a masterpiece of a story.

The Perishing by Natashia Deón, (List Price: $26, Counterpoint, 9781640093027, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa is the story of Anna, an African British woman who never knew her father. Anna discovers clues to her African father’s identity only after her mother dies. This is fortuitous. What follows as Anna acknowledges and accepts her father, a man with a vast reputation and many secrets, is the healing and melding of Anna’s two identities and a new beginning. A master storyteller, Onuzo’s third novel is an epic story of belonging and identity.

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220830, October 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Assembly by Natasha Brown

This book is an excellent “gateway” for readers of all kinds to learn about the subtle nuances of being a person of color. From microaggressions to being called out because of race, the main character sees at all and is trying to make a name for herself. On the surface, this short book is about a woman meeting her boyfriend’s parents, but the story dives much deeper and examines differences in race, wealth, and status. Throughout the book, I felt myself questioning how I have been racist without meaning to and ways in which people have done the same to me. This quick read will stay with me for a long time and make me examine my interactions that much closer, with an eye towards empathy and understanding.

Assembly by Natasha Brown, (List Price: $23.00, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316268264, September 2021)

Reviewed by Josie Greenwald, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner

This beautifully written memoir features the intertwined lives of the author, her sister and childhood friend. Written in fresh, understated prose, the author explores how their lives diverge – in ways heartbreaking and hopeful, despairing and redemptive. Three Girls is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I hope it gets the attention and awards it deserves.

Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner, (List Price: 26.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982107703, September 2021)

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Field Study by Chet’la Sebree

I love anything that blurs genre lines, so I loved the way this book is an experiment of blending poetry and prose, memoir and fiction. There’s a dash of collective storytelling here, too, in the way the author brings in the words of Black feminist poets and writers. A beautiful and earnest exploration of relationships, love, and desire.

Field Study by Chet’la Sebree, (List Price: 16, FSG Originals, 9780374539023, June 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson

Sisters in Arms is the previously untold story of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps, originated from the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and the first Black women allowed to serve. This is a much-needed novel, perfect for fans of not just World War II fiction but all historical fiction. It would make the perfect selection for book clubs this fall!

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson, (List Price: 16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062964588, August 2021)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night by Morgan Parker

I loved Morgan Parker’s collections There are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce and Magical Negro so I was excited to go back and read her debut collection in its new re-released form. It comes with a lovely foreword by Danez Smith, whose observations enhanced my reading experience. From her other two collections, I knew I loved the way Parker combines poetry and music; I loved seeing in this collection how she brings the visual arts into her world, too.

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night by Morgan Parker, (List Price: 16.95, Tin House Books, 9781951142568, July, 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night by Morgan Parker

I loved Morgan Parker’s collections THERE ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAN BEYONCE and MAGICAL NEGRO so I was excited to go back and read her debut collection in its new re-released form. It comes with a lovely foreword by Danez Smith, whose observations enhanced my reading experience. From her other two collections, I knew I loved the way Parker combines poetry and music; I loved seeing in this collection how she brings the visual arts into her world, too.

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night by Morgan Parker, (List Price: 16.95, Tin House Books, 9781951142568, July 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Fans of GET OUT and SAWKILL GIRLS, prepare to meet Jake Livingston. Ryan Douglass’s debut is gritty and extremely tough to read at times, but with social issues at the forefront and a hero worth rooting for, THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON is a deep novel that holds back no punches. Queer, eerie, and heart-wrenching, Douglass takes his readers on an emotional rollercoaster through these horror events – both paranormal and real-life.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass, (List Price: 17.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9781984812537, July 2021)

Reviewed by Brad Sells, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

Mott’s latest is no joke. Charlie Kauffman-esque in its surrealism that devolves into almost fever dream with the most unreliable narrator I’ve ever read. Fantastic writing, and meaning, and it should be read by the masses. ‘Memory and death are countries that know no geography.’

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott, (List Price: 27, Dutton, 9780593330968, July 2021)

Reviewed by Amber Brown from Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

Georgia in the days immediately following the Emancipation Proclamation, Harris’ characters display the best and the worst responses to the new order. Brutal yet hopeful, this one’s a slow burn until you realize you’re so caught up in the story you can’t possibly stop reading.

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris, (List Price: 28, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316461276, 2021-06-15)

Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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