“I needed to write a book that reflected reality”: A conversation with Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström

Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström's fiction debut—an award-winning Nigerian-Swedish travel photographer and writer living in Stockholm—is a striking story. A unique distillation of commercial and literary fiction that feels like a tragedy, In Every Mirror She’s Black is an unputdownable read many have called “the perfect book club book”. It is preceded by the 2018 Lowell Thomas Award winner Due North and the bestselling LAGOM: Swedish Secret of Living Well. In this interview, Ákínmádé Åkerström talks freely about how In Every Mirror She’s Black upends mainstream ideas about Nordic society, her difficult journey to publication, and writing Black women.

Real and riveting, In Every Mirror She’s Black is the perfect read

Imagine the thrilling pacing of gripping genre fiction, the socio-political urgency of literary fiction and the sharp clarity of non-fiction, all thrown together to tell a story that has never been told before: the story of Black women in Sweden. Across class, career, and culture, Kemi, Brittany-Rae, and Muna experience Stockholm in vastly different ways relative to their Blackness but all three are, fundamentally, devastatingly lonely. Solitude is the real story of In Every Mirror She’s Black, a unique distillation of commercial and literary fiction that ultimately hits like a tragedy.

“I want the book to create space, especially psychic space in our imaginations”: A conversation with Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah cares about African women, sex, and sexuality. In 2009, she co-founded the award-winning blog, Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, with her best friend Makala Grant after an inspiring girls holiday in Ghana. Last summer, she published The Sex Lives of African Women. In this interview, Nana gives us her perspective on the book’s genesis, ethos, and her best book recommendations.

How Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah’s The Sex Lives of African Women will set you free

I started this brilliant book voraciously, stealing a few pages while waiting on the bus and a couple more when in line at the grocery store. I finished it hesitantly, unwilling to let go of the dear companionship it provided for a few days and return to solo living. The Sex Lives of African Women is a safe space: it is pure, unadulterated freedom, somehow magically distilled and transformed into a 304-page book.

The winner of the 2020 Jhalak Prize is a pioneering travelogue about continental Black Europe

With Afropean, Pitts leads the way in spotlighting the flavour and entangled histories of Europe's Black communities through what may be one of the most comprehensive and transnational studies on the subject to date. Any discussion of Afropean should begin with an acknowledgement of how it is a pioneering work, and certainly so within the Anglophone literary tradition. Pitts says it best: “the US exports its blackness; Europe does not.”