Shadow Forward: A Review of My Monticello

A debut collection of fiction, these five short stories and novella shape the dust of the past. My Monticello pulsates the contemporary moment’s terror and uncertainty, during which the vestiges of United States chattel slavery grasp the grooves of our fingerprints. As you make your way through this debut collection, think about the living and the dead. Who and what are we the product of, and what is the future of this current birthing? I want us to exercise patience as we wait for the arrival of answers. Are we okay with not knowing?

After a 20-year publishing hiatus, Gayl Jones is back with a heady historical fiction

After publishing to great acclaim in the 1980s and 1990s, Gayl Jones disappeared from the public eye. Somewhere in the last few pages of this brutal historical fiction that has been half a century in the making, our protagonist—the observational Almeyda—asks “how can one write such a history and live through it at the same time?”. A fragmented narrative of slavery and survival set in 17th century colonial Brazil, Palmares begs the same question.

Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men centres humanity in the midst of tragedy and injustice

The Fortune Men is a historical fiction set in 1950s Cardiff that explores the real and distressing story of Mahmood Mattan, the last innocent man to be hanged in Wales. A Somali seaman with a taste for gambling and petty theft, Mahmood is focused on reconnecting with his Welsh wife and being a father to their children. But after being accused of murder, Mahmood faces a legal system determined to find him guilty.

Dead Dead Girls: A dark serial killer thriller set in 1920s Harlem

Dead Dead Girls is a gripping mystery set in 1920s Harlem that looks into the murder of young Black women. And the investigator to these murders? A young heroine known as the “Harlem Hero” who just wants to dance her nights away and sip on gin. Despite the glitz, glamour and Gatsby-like parties that we know the 1920s for, Dead Dead Girls presents a darker side of the Roaring Twenties era.

The Booker-nominated Black Moses is a damning portrait of 80s Congo-Brazzaville

Longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses zeroes in on corruption in late 1970s Congo-Brazzaville. In this cynical coming-of-age story, Mabanckou changes the narrative by troubling what is expected of the bildungsroman. Straddling an array of themes like orphan suffering, governmental corruption, and mental health in a seedy setting, this tale of endearing novice gangsters and charming sex workers offers a refreshing take on the well-worn tropes of urban fiction.