Suggested Reading

Below is a small selection of the many relevant books available from Norfolk libraries. Follow the link for each book to reserve a copy at your local branch.

Subject Areas
Young people


African-American atlas, black history and culture
↪ by Molefi K. Asante
Down by the river
↪ by Grace Hallworth
Afro-Caribbean rhymes and games.
Black in the British Frame
↪ by Stephen Bourne
The Black experience in British film and television.
Music of black Americans
↪ by Eileen Southern
Measure of a man, a memoir
↪ by Sidney Poitier
Measure of a man, a memoir: His engaging memoir spans a time in American history from segregation, through the early Civil Rights conflicts, to present-day cultural struggles. Poitier shares his provocative thoughts on racism in Hollywood, consumerism and the media, illness and mortality, honouring a higher consciousness and paying the price for artistic integrity. (Amazon)
Billie Holiday/Divas
↪ by Martin Aston
No easy walk to freedom (African Writers Series)
↪ by Nelson Mandela
These hands I know: African American writers on family
↪ edited by Afaa Michael Weaver
Reimaging Britain: 500 years of Black and Asian History
↪ by Rob Ramdin
The Black Parenting Book: caring for our children in the first years
↪ by Anne C. Beal
Writing Black Britain: by an interdisciplinary anthology
↪ edited by James Procter
Peeping through the Reeds: A story about living in Apartheid South Africa
↪ by Musuva
Peeping through the Reeds: This book hits the senses where it should matter… This books cuts so close to the South African bone that you should not be surprised to find yourself squirming at its shockingly honest portrayal of cruelty to the human psyche. It’s a running commentary on the inner workings of a madness that’s been brewing for centuries, told unlike any of the many superficial and selective prose that continue to shape the popular account of the South African story. For a closer view from the coalface of the South Africa you don’t know of this books comes highly recommended. (Amazon)


Some Kind of Black
↪ by Diran Adebayo
Baby Father
↪ by Patrick Augustus
↪ by JM Coetzee
Invisible Man
↪ by Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison’s impassioned first novel, winner of the prestigious American National Book Award, tells the story of an invisible man simply because people refuse to see me. Yet his powerfully depicted adventures go far beyond the story of one man.
The Emperor’s Babe
↪ by Bernadine Evaristo
This novel in verse is set in Londinium, 211 AD, a city of slum tenements and sumptuous villas. Zulekeikia, child-bride of an ageing Roman businessman, is bored with villa life, sex and her husband – until she meets the Emperor Septimus Severus.
July’s People
↪ by Nadine Gordimer
Waiting for an Angel
↪ by Helon Habila
Waiting for an Angel: Nigerian author Habila’s debut novel is a noble account of how even the poorest and lowliest people must rise up against oppression, regardless of the consequences. Habila tells the story of Lomba as he goes from student to failed novelist to journalist to political prisoner, trying to retain his dignity despite the corruption and violence that has contaminated every part of Nigerian society. (Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L., IN)
Dead by Popular Demand
↪ by Teddy Hayes
A Rage in Harlem
↪ by Chester Himes
Jackson is so unhip that he can’t see through the scam he’s being offered. After losing his life’s savings to a con artist, he steals from his boss, and begins his descent into the less-savoury aspects of life in Harlem. This was Himes’ first foray into crime fiction.
Girl with Brains in her Feet
↪ by Jo Hodges
Small Island
↪ by Andrea Levy
Small Island: Levy examines not only the conflicts of two cultures thrown together after a terrible war, but also the kindness and strength people can show to each other. The Second World War was a great catalyst that has led to the multi-cultural society Britain has become. For Andrea Levy acknowledging the role played by all sides in this change is an important part of understanding the process so we can go on to create a better future together. (
Waiting to Exhale
↪ by Terry McMillan
↪ by Toni Morrison
An audacious vision from a master storyteller of the nature of love – its appetite, its sublime possession, and its dread – is rich in characters and dramatic events, and in its profound understanding of how alive the past can be.
Devil in a Blue Dress
↪ by William Mosley
The hero of this crime thriller set in 1940s Los Angeles is Easy Rawlins, a tough black war veteran who takes up detective work in order to make ends meet. His assignment – discovering the whereabouts of a femme fatale singer – leads him into a nightmare world of racialism and violence.
Purple Hibiscus
↪ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In Arcadia
↪ by Ben Okri
A group of ill-assorted people accept an invitation to make a journey. Inspired by a painting and financed by a mysterious benefactor, they set off to discover the real Arcadia. Their journey begins in ignorance and chaos at Waterloo station and takes them through superstition and myth to harmony.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
↪ by Z.Z Packer
In a debut collection by an award-winning short story writer, a scout troop of African-American girls is confronted by a group of disabled white girls and a young man considers his allegiance to his father during the Million Man March in Washington.
Cry the Beloved Country
↪ by Alan Paton
The Autograph Man
↪ by Zadie Smith
Alex-Li Tandem sells autographs. He hunts for names on paper in a huge network of desire, collecting them, selling them and occasionally faking them; offering people a little piece of fame. To him, enlightenment is some part of himself that cannot be signed, celebrated or sold.
A Grain of Wheat
↪ by Ngugi wa Thiongo
A Grain of Wheat: His rich characterisation, complex narrative and deep humanity weave together to form one of the ambitious and fully achieved African novels. (Reading Africa)
By the Light of my Father’s Smile
↪ by Alice Walker
A family travels to the remote Mexican Sierras where they embark upon an encounter that will change them more than they could ever imagine. Alice Walker’s first novel in six years explores how a woman’s denied sexuality can lead to the loss of self – and how that self might be regained.

Young people

Gangsta Rap
↪ by Benjamin Zephaniah
Noughts and Crosses
↪ by Malorie Blackman
Noughts and Crosses: Intelligent, emotional and imaginatively wicked (Benjamin Zephaniah)
The Other Side of Truth
↪ by Beverley Naidoo
Black Angels
↪ by Rita Murphy
The Land
↪ by Mildred D Taylor
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
↪ by Mildred D Taylor
A Caribbean dozen, a collection of poems
↪ by John Agard
The Icarus Girl
↪ by Helen Oyeyemi


The Heinemann book of Caribbean poetry (Caribbean Writers Series)
↪ edited by Stewart Brown
Funky Chickens
↪ by Benjamin Zephaniah
The Adoption Papers
↪ by Jackie Kay
The Adoption Papers: The poems deal with an adopted child’s search for a cultural identity and are told through three different voices: an adoptive mother, a birth mother and a daughter. The collection won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award, the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award and a commendation by the Forward Poetry Prize judges in 1992. (Contemporary Writers)
Different drums, selected poems
↪ by Lemm Sissay (Spoken word CD)
Bittersweet, contemporary black women’s poetry
↪ edited by Karen McCarthy
Mi revalueshanry fren: selected poems
↪ by Linton Kwesi Johnson
The poetry of black America
↪ edited by Arnold Adoff
The fire people, a collection of contemporary black British poets
↪ edited by Lemn Sissay

What is Black History Month?

Here we detail some of the ideas and history behind the annual celebration.

Events By Year

Date Title
2016 Norfolk Black History Month
2015 Norfolk Black History Month
2014 Norfolk Black History Month
2013 Norfolk Black History Month
2012 Norfolk Black History Month
2011 Norfolk Black History Month
2010 Norfolk Black History Month
2009 Norfolk Black History Month