What to read: Summer edition 2021
Whether you're seeking a stylish thriller or a love story, pack one of these sizzling reads in your suitcase – you won’t regret it.
We might not all be jetting off to faraway destinations this summer but any break – be that a camping trip to Wales, a week in Cornwall, or just a hiatus from the digital devices – deserves a good read. So, in a bid to recreate the holiday spirit publishers are pulling out all the stops to give you a unputdownable staycation story. What to pack? Here are our top picks.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Simon and Schuster)
If there’s one title of the summer that’s generating all the buzz, it’s this blockbuster by American author Zakiya Dalila Harris. Described as ‘Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada’, The Other Black Girl is a darkly funny and thrilling ride set in the world of publishing. We meet editorial assistant Nella Rodgers, who’s grappling with being the only black woman in a white-dominated business – that’s until another black girl, Hazel, turns up. Hazel’s got everything: looks, brains, ambitions and an amazing boyfriend. But is everything as it seems? Nella suspects otherwise. You won’t be able to put it down.
Luster by Raven Leilani (Picador)
Zadie Smith has called this novel “brutal – and brilliant”– and who are we to argue? Luster is the kind of rare book that has critics and readers in synch with their praise, and it’s been flying off the bookshelves. The story follows Edie, a young broke black woman who gets entangled with a white couple. It’s insightful about what it means to be black in the US; it’s sharp (the writing is pitch perfect) and sexy (just look at the cover for starters). Luster skyrocketed Raven into the literary landscape and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri (Penguin Books)
In her follow up to Don’t Touch My Hair, an exploration of how hair has played a significant role in race politics and discrimination, Emma Dabiri tackles the subject of activism and allyship, which took centre stage after the death of George Floyd. She questions the effectiveness and danger of many acts of support on social media. Was uploading a black square to Instagram a useful way to support Black Lives Matter? Is the way we talk about allyship placing black people as ‘inferior’ in need of protection by well-meaning white people? If you’re after some enlightening non-fiction on your hols, this is the book for you.
Who’s Loving You: Love Stories by Women of Colour edited by Sareeta Domingo (Orion)
A celebration of love in various forms, this collection has been tenderly put together by Sareeta Domingo. As a black romance writer she calls herself a ‘rare breed’, and approached this book of 10 love stories by British women writers of colour as a way to show how intimacy, lust, desire and connection should not be seen through a white lens. Contributors include Sara Collins, acclaimed novelist behind The Confessions of Frannie Langton, TV exec, screenwriter and Twitter queen Danielle Dash, and bestselling author Dorothy Koomson.