A BIPOC Author from Europe
By Natasha Shaikh
Reading has been my companion through many life events like extended family get-togethers, lunch breaks at a new workplace, a cottage getaway with friends, and even long flights, which I especially miss right now. My favourite thing when I was younger and travelling with my mom and baby sister was to run into the airport bookstore and pick out two or three books for me to read on the flight. Often these flights would take us to stopovers in Europe and I’d get the opportunity to be overwhelmed by the variety of books to choose from in a completely different place.
These bookstores from another place were where I first laid eyes on many of my childhood favourites, including Diana Wynne Jones, Roald Dahl, and even Ray Bradbury. There was just something magical about being in another country, reading about its similar setting and people, though not quite like home—which added to the charm of the stories. For the month of July, we are highlighting four books we’re reading by writers who are BIPOC (or BAME if using the UK’s umbrella term) and from Europe. Enjoy!
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Available on Audible Canada)
Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon and Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.
“All you need to know is…I’m here to divide and conquer. Like all great tyrants do.” (Aces)
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (Available on Audible Canada)
A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.
Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.
Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.
To Lahore, with Love, by Hina Belitz (Available on Audible Canada)
Escape today with this gorgeous novel that will warm your heart, tickle your tastebuds and take you on the journey of a lifetime…
Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness.
When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life forever.
This Lovely City by Louise Hare
An atmospheric and utterly compelling debut novel touted as a “historical murder mystery” about a Jamaican immigrant living in postwar London. This Lovely City shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects ― but that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.
London, 1950. With the war over and London still rebuilding, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for labour. Arriving from Jamaica aboard the Empire Windrush, he’s rented a tiny room in south London and fallen in love with the girl next door.
Playing in Soho’s jazz clubs by night and pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home ― and it’s alive with possibility. Until one morning, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery.
As the local community rallies, fingers of blame point at those who were recently welcomed with open arms. And before long, London’s newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy that threatens to tear the city apart. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.