Black History Month – 2021 New Releases

Here at Turnaround, we hope that you’re having a great start to your October. But while you’re drinking your PSLs and planning your Halloween costumes we hope that you don’t forget another very important part of the season. This Black History Month you should be supporting and celebrating the black people in your life and on your shelf. To help you on your way, we’ve picked five new releases coming out this month that celebrate black writers, black characters and real black icons from history. That’s right! We have a great book for you no matter what you’re looking for.

Iyanu by Roye Okupe
(Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek, 9781506723044, p/b, £16.99)

Iyanu, a teenage orphan with no recollection of her past, suddenly discovers that she has abilities that rival the ancient deities she’s heard about in the folklore of her people.

It is these abilities that are the key to bringing back an “age of wonders,” and so Iyanu begins her journey to save a world on the brink of destruction! The Corrupt — cursed wildlife and strange, divine beasts — are determined to destroy humanity, unless Iyanu can stop them. Like with the rest of the YouNeek series of books, this graphic novel brings together fantasy, superhero narratives and African history, culture and mythology to create a never-before told masterpiece of wonder.

Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique
(Riverhead Books, 9781594633607, h/b, £20.00)

From the award-winning author of Land of Love and Drowning, an electric new novel that maps the emotional inheritance of one couple newly in love.

When Fly and Stela meet in 21st Century New York City, it seems like fate. He’s a Black American musician from a mixed-religious background who knows all about heartbreak. She’s a Catholic science teacher from the Caribbean, looking for lasting love. But are they meant to be? The answer goes back decades—all the way to their parents’ earliest loves. What challenges and traumas must this new couple inherit, what hopes and ambitions will keep them moving forward? The novel posits that in order to answer the question “who are we meant to be with?” we must first understand who we are and how we came to be.

Dance Theatre of Harlem by Judy Tyrus / Paul Novosel
(Dafina, 9781496733603, p/b, £41.99)

Here, for the first time, is the definitive portrait of the one-of-a-kind community dance company that reflected — and shaped — our times, and whose enduring principle continues to inspire the future.

Alive with stunning photographs, including many from the legendary Marbeth, this incomparable book is a must-have for any lover of dance, art, culture, or history. With exclusive backstage stories from its legendary dancers and staff, and unprecedented access to its archives, Dance Theatre of Harlem is a striking chronicle of the company’s amazing history, its fascinating daily workings, and the visionaries who made its legacy. Here you’ll discover how the company’s founders — African-American maestro Arthur Mitchell of George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, and Nordic-American Karel Shook of The Dutch National Ballet — created timeless works that challenged Eurocentric mainstream ballet head-on — and used new techniques to examine ongoing issues of power, beauty, myth, and the ever-changing definition of art itself.

Sweet People Are Everywhere by Alice Walker (Illustrated by Quim Torres)
(Tra Publishing, 9781734761818, p/b, £15.99)

Sweet People Are Everywhere, an illustrated picture book featuring a poem by internationally renowned writer and activist Alice Walker, is a powerful celebration of humanity. 

They are all over the globe. Sweet people can be found from Canada to Congo to Cuba, from Afghanistan to Australia, from Ireland to Iraq…there are sweet people in the thirty-seven places listed in these pages and almost everywhere else on the planet. Take a trip through the lines of this large-hearted poem by Alice Walker and meet some of them. An ode to humanity, Walker’s heartening message is celebrated through Quim Torres’ deeply felt illustrations.

The FBI War on Tupac Shakur by John Potash
(Microcosm Publishing, 9781621064558, p/b, £15.99)

Controversy continues to surround the death of rap and cultural icon Tupac Shakur. In this book, preeminent researcher on the topic, John Potash, puts forward his own theories of the events leading up to and following the murder. Never before has there been such a detailed and shocking analysis of the death of one of the greatest musicians of the modern era. Containing a wealth of names, dates, and events, Potash details the use of unscrupulous tactics by the FBI against a generation of leftist political leaders and musicians, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Didn’t we tell you we had some great books for you? We weren’t lying. Children’s titles, graphic novels, non-fiction looks at black icons and works of fiction that delve in to the realities of black life in history. You won’t be disappointed no matter what you pick up from this list. We’ve got your Black History Month sorted. But don’t stop there. If you can’t finish all the works on this list by October 31st, don’t worry. Remember that it’s always a good time to read black books and we’ll always be here with more recommendations.

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