International Women’s Day is a holiday celebrated annually on March 8th to highlight the women’s rights movement. It pays special attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

So it was only right that we honor our Black women authors who have for so many years made us feel seen in their work and highlighted our plight.

From writing about our hair routines to celebrating every shade of Black we come in, they have given us shelter when we needed to be hidden. And provided light to navigate our way out of the darkness. They have wrapped their arms around us and with the stroke of their pens; they said, “Sis I see you.”

This listicle is a thank you to Black women authors for giving us relatable authentic stories that make us feel seen and appreciated; they deserve all their accolades.

These authors listed all, “Sing a Black girl’s song.” Oya, leggo!

 Zora Neale Hurston

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Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God draws you into the life of Janie Crawford, and her quest to find herself and romance. Set in the 1930s, this Southern love story follows Janie’s journey to finding love. 

The writing felt intimate, it addressed deep issues that Black women continue to face. Hurston’s ability to tap into the intimate parts of Black women while also showcasing their struggles is what makes this book a classic.

 Aiwanose Odafen

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Odafen’s Tomorrow I Become a Woman takes a hard look at what womanhood means for African women. Obianuju’s story evinces that to be a woman, or, at least be considered a respectable one, comes at the steep price of effacing one’s sense of self.

To me, Uju’s story is an extension of Nnu Ego’s story in Buchi Emecheta’s, The Joys of Motherhood. It begs the question: What is the joy of motherhood and womanhood? And why do both journeys almost always leave us without any elbow room? This is something that Chanequa Walker-Barnes’ book, Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength, also addresses.

 Tia Williams

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The Perfect Find, (not to sound cheesy) was a perfect find for me.

I’m always looking for romance novels with the older woman, and younger man trope because I think more stories need to be told about older Black women finding love and happiness.

The Perfect Find echoes novels like Sheila Williams’ Dancing on the Edge of the Roof. No kidding, the novel gives all the feels, from anger to swooning over Jenna’s romance with Eric. The book was adapted into a film that is now playing on Netflix

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

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The Sex Lives of African Women is a documentation of what sex looks like and means to contemporary African women. Each chapter showcases different women opening up about their sex lives.

No, it is not an erotica; it is a collection of stories, that seeks to explore the different shades of sexual freedom of African women. Sekyiamah presents the stories of these women in a way that feels like an appeal and permission for others to explore what sex should look like for them.

Mariama Ba

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I am forever grateful to Mariama Ba for So Long a Letter; it is one of the first glances I had as a teenager, of female friendship being portrayed as a lifeline.

Now, as a grown woman, I realize its novels like So Long a Letter that gave me the mindset to see my female friends as a support system. And I aspire to be that for them too.

It’s the same element of celebrating Black female friendship and depicting them as vital that endears Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale, as a classic for me as well.  

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

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One thing I appreciate about Adichie’s Americanah, is the character, Ifemelu. She is not the conventionally sweet, or stop-you-in-your-track beauty- yes, I know novels are a form of escape, but they need not all have the same stock character as heroines.

This act of writing a non-conventional female protagonist is something that I have seen in novels like Dorothy Koomson’s The Chocolate Run, and I’m so here for it!  

Peace Adzo Medie

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Joan Morgan’s comment that “sisterhood ain’t sainthood” is right.

Medie’s Nightbloom gives you a good look at sisterhood, by taking on two generations of sisterhood: Akorfa and Selasi and their mothers. I particularly like that Medie uses a two-way perspective to tell this story, that way, you get both of their stories.

Also, I dig Medie’s vibes in this novel; it gives Poetic Justice, if you know, you know. 

Ayobami Adebayo

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Ah, this woman is a master at telling poignant stories, as in, stories that will have you reeling for days. How do I describe Adebayo’s A Spell of Good Things?

Take your pick: is it the honest, especially crafting of different lives in one story; or (my personal fav) her nod to different Nigerian authors; or, the ending, that sort of holds a mirror for the reader to see the Nigerian social reality- no mawkish pandering?

Her ability to give voice to the different voices in this story, proves Nikki Giovanni’s assertion- “writers write from empathy,” to be true, and I love her for it!

 J. J. McAvoy

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Toni Morrison said; “If there’s a book, you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Have you seen the book covers for McAvoy’s Aphrodite and the Duke: A Novel (The DuBells Book 1), and Verity and the Forbidden Suitor!? More so, she writes Black Historical Romance without the gloomy undertones of slavery.

Sometimes a girl just wants to escape all the heavy and cozy up to a light and happy fictional romance, and McAvoy more than delivers on this score. Sistah Girls, her novel, Hathor and the Prince, is set for release on March 19th–save the date!

Lola Akinmade Akerstrom

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When Micere Githae Mugo says, “Writing can be a lifeline, especially when your existence has been… left on the margins,” I believe she is referring to books like Akerstrom’s In Every Mirror She’s Black.

The novel revolves around three Black women- Kemi, whose quest for love takes her on a merry-go-round, Brittany, and her yearning for protection, which leads her into a strange relationship; and Muna, whose life is dictated by circumstances beyond her control.

Through all three women, Akerstrom makes explicit statements about the perception of Black womanhood. 

 Yejide Kilanko

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Kilankos’s Daughters Who Walk This Path delves into the havoc that incestuous rape wrecks on the girl-child. Don’t get it twisted, it is not all heavy stuff; it is also a tale of sisterhood and romance.

I enjoyed reading the connection between this novel and Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come (one of my all-time favs), seeing as both stories center on the coming-of-age story of a young female, and how that journey leads them to many twists and turns, eventually leading up to them learning to exhale.

Krystal Marquis

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Don’t you relish reading historically inspired novels? I mean, come on, it’s like being in an interesting history class, now suddenly, you can picture the events, while also getting the feels that the era carries.

The inspiration for The Davenports is Charles Richard Patterson and his family. A brief context: C. R. Patterson and Sons, was initially a successful Black-owned carriage company in the 1800s; it then later became the first Black-owned automotive company in America. 

The story follows the lives of four women: Ruby, Olivia, Helen, and Amy-Rose, and their journey toward self-discovery and love, with the added advantage of the context.

Marquis’ second novel, More Than This, a sequel to the first, seems even more jimjim (bombshell), is set for release on May 7th, 2024.

Maya Angelou

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Can one celebrate Black female writers without Angelou? I think not!

She was a prolific writer, with poems like: “Phenomenal Woman,” “And Still I Rise,” and “Caged Bird”, she exultantly celebrated Black womanhood, while also drawing attention to racial discrimination.

 Lola Shoneyin

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With works like The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and So All the Time I Was Sitting on an Egg, Shoneyin shows herself as seeking to subvert the cultural expectations of women (with her full chest, I must add), and I love her for it.

Sistah Girls, if you’ve read any of these books, let me know in the comments below.



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