We have a fondness for book clubs here at the Center for the Reader, and one we are truly inspired by is Well-Read Black Girl (“WRBG”). WRBG is a nation-wide book club focusing on black women - both readers and writers – that quickly blossomed from small events in Brooklyn to a multi-platform phenomenon with a thriving online community, including a hugely popular Instagram account. It was started by Glory Edim in 2015, who was looking for a way to share her enthusiasm for novelists like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou, to name a few; and so WRBG was born. With the goal of “showcasing the universality of Black women through literature,” she now hosts monthly book club meetings, readings, and Twitter chats, as well as organizes an annual literary festival. Learn more about Well-Read Black Girl book club and join the conversation by visiting wellreadblackgirl.com. This month we are featuring novels inspired by the varied and vibrant reading list of WRBG in Center for the Reader and here.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett: Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett's mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a what if can be more powerful than an experience itself; if, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.
Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker: As unapologetic and resilient as the DC neighborhoods they live in, these women challenge monolithic assumptions of black identity. In this debut collection of stories, each of them navigate life’s “training school”—with its lessons on gentrification and respectability—while fighting to create a vibrant sense of self.
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson: After their mother can no longer care for them, young Phaedra and her older sister are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados to live with their grandmother, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah. When the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, Phaedra must choose between the Brooklyn she once loved or her family’s Barbados.
Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson: Nalo Hopkinson has been widely hailed as a highly significant voice in Caribbean and American fiction. Falling in Love with Hominids presents over a dozen years of Hopkinson’s new, uncollected fiction, much of which has been unavailable in print. Her singular, vivid tales, which mix the modern with Afro-Caribbean folklore, are occupied by creatures unpredictable and strange: chickens that breathe fire, adults who eat children, and spirits that haunt shopping malls.
All information taken from the Well-Read Black Girl website. All annotations courtesy of goodreads.com.