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  • Writer's pictureJoy Blenman

Five Must-Read Books by Black Canadian Authors

5 Black Canadian Writers To Add to Your Bookshelf

Here are five incredible authors of the Black diaspora to add to your bookshelf. Many of these books have been on my family's bookshelf for years, others like the Giller Prize Winning book Washington Black by Esi Edugyan are new modern classics that I believe will have an indelible impact on you.

1.Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada by Lawrence Hill

Best known for his epic work, The Book of Negroes, Hill also wrote this little gem

that explores issues of race and identity in contemporary Canada.

2. Ossuaries, by Dionne Brand. 

Check out this book of powerful, fiercely feminist poetry by a Governor General Award winner and a former Toronto Poet Laureate.

3. Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan.

This novel won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Edugyan’s second such award. It follows the life of a slave from a plantation in Barbados to the frozen North and to Europe as man and master discover their true humanity.

4. The Polished Hoe, by Austin Clarke. 

Also a Giller Prize winner, Clarke is a pioneer in Black and Caribbean Canadian writing. This seductive and sensational story becomes a metaphor for British colonial rape of people and property and its ensuing traumas.  

5. A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada, by Cecil Foster.

Although published in 1996, this story-like text on race, identity, police brutality and immigrant dreams is every bit as relevant in Canada in 2020. Pity.

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