Friday, July 9, 2010

POC Across the Pond

No this is not going to be a post about famous people of color who are English (Idris Elba, Sophie Okonedo, etc.) *Rather this post is about YA published in the UK. Some of them have been published here in the U.S., some have not. Not all the authors mentioned here are authors of color. Regardless I want to read them all. This post would not have been possible were it not for the amazingness that is Lauren from I Was A Teenage Book Geek and Karen Mahoney. Thank you so much for your recommendations, I would have been lost without you two!

I decided to include summaries of all the books I mentioned and link to the author's website and their list of books. Most of the authors I've included have written sequels to books I've mentioned or several other books. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of authors I've discovered.

Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah

A teacher is dead, murdered by two of his students in front of the school. He was a good man. People liked him. So how could this happen? Why? It just doesn't make sense to Jackson, and he is determined to investigate the case until he understands. Benjamin Zephaniah has, once again, chosen a topical and hard-hitting subject - and he deals with it in his own uniquely empathetic and edgy way.

-Read the synopsis. Doesn't this book sound crazy edgy?!

From Somalia With Love by Na'ima B. Robert (ETA: Thank you Miss Alice for pointing out that I had the wrong author listed!)

My name is Safia Dirie. My family has always been my mum, Hoyo, and my two older brothers, Ahmed and Abdullahi. I don't really remember Somalia - I'm an East London girl, through and through. But now Abo, my father, is coming from Somalia to live with us, after 12 long years. How am I going to cope?" Safia knows that there will be changes ahead but nothing has prepared her for the reality of dealing with Abo's cultural expectations, her favourite brother Ahmed's wild ways, and the temptation of her cousin Firdous’s party-girl lifestyle. Safia must come to terms with who she is – as a Muslim, as a teenager, as a poet, as a friend, but most of as a daughter to a father she has never known. Safia must find her own place in the world, so both father and daughter can start to build the relationship they both long for. From Somalia With Love is one girl's quest to discover who she is – a story that, while rooted in Somali and Muslim life, strikes a chord with young people everywhere.

-I love that Safia has to come to terms with so many parts of her life, sounds like an intriguing read.

City of Ghosts by Bali Rai

It's 1919 and Amritsar is a city on the brink of rebellion. Riots, violence and tension spill onto the streets ...Bissen Singh fought bravely for the British Empire during World War One. Now he waits patiently for news from England. Gurdial, a young orphan, is desperate to marry Sohni, the daughter of a rich and evil man. And Jeevan, Gurdial's oldest friend, is swept up in the revolution and changing beyond all recognition. Bissen, Gurdial and Jeevan are looking to the future whilst trying to escape ghosts from the past. But as the fight for Amritsar reaches a terrifying climax, their lives will be changed for ever. This is an epic story of love and life, war and death from multi-award-winning author Bali Rai.
-Guess whose blurb is on the first page of the author's website? Lauren's!

Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami

Three feisty, fun-loving Anglo-Asian sisters rule the roost over their dad since their mum died. They've got a reputation at school for being the coolest, most sorted babes in town - and what they certainly don't need is an interfering Auntie-ji from India inviting herself over to England and cramping their style. Which is exactly what their dad organizes - The girls decide the only way out of this nagging-adult dilemma is an arranged marriage - for their auntie! Enter Mr Arora, the dream boat teacher who just might whisk Auntie off in his arms and into the sunset. (They hope!)

-This author is perhaps best known for her book Bend It Like Beckham which became a movie. This series sounds adorable. Probably more MG than YA.

Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne

Miku Takeshita and her family have moved from Japan to live in the UK, but unfortunately the family's enemy demons have followed them… Miku knows she's in trouble when her new supply teacher turns out to be a Nukekubi - a bloodthirsty demon who can turn into a flying head and whose favourite snack is children. That night, in a raging snowstorm, Miku's little brother Kazu is kidnapped by the demons, and then it's up to Miku and her friend Cait to get him back. The girls break into their snow-locked school, confronting the dragon-like Woman of the Wet, and outwitting the faceless Nopera-bo. At last they come face to face with the Nukekubi itself - but will they be in time to save Kazu?

The winner of the first Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award, this is the first of a new trilogy, Takeshita Demons, with the second, Takeshita Demons: The Filth-Licker due to be published in 2011 and Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri in 2012.
-Japan + fierce heroine + supernatural elements=WIN (plus I love that there is a Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award)

Hello Mum by Bernardine Evaristo

It’s a hot summer afternoon. Tension is in the air. A gang of youths on bikes gathers outside a chip shop. A teenage boy is stabbed and left bleeding on the street. The boy’s mother wonders how this could have happened to her son. She is full of questions, but when the answers lie so close to home, are they really what she wants to hear?

-It's interesting, the book is only 96 pages but I bet it packs a punch. And look a male of color on the cover!

Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann

Rayne couldn't wait to get away from everything: her mum, her boyfriend, the estate. But the solitude of Morton's Keep isn't all she thought it would be. It's eerie and more than a little creepy. When she meets St John, Rayne forgets her worries; he's like no one she's ever met. So why is everyone warning her away from him? She knows there's something people aren't telling her. But how can she find out the secrets everyone wants to keep hidden ... and more importantly, know who to trust?
-The main character is biracial and I'm ticked that the U.S. cover does not express that fact. If you've read this one is it really scary? I'm a real coward, no horror movies or scary crime thrillers for me.

Where I Belong by Gillian Cross

There are guns and bandits in this story. And supermodels. And there's drought and starvation too. Are you wondering how they can all come together? Well, that's how life is these days. Things don't happen neatly, in separate little places. We're all caught by the great spider's web of media that spans the world. That's where this story is set. The world. It's the story of Abdi and Khadija and Freya (that's me) and what happened to us because of Somalia....

-This cover is GORGEOUS. If I constantly had money I would buy the book for the cover alone. Fortunately the synopsis sounds amazing so I can justify buying this book.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Be careful what you wish for ...Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long lost half brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London, where he belongs. Then Andi's biggest wish comes true and she's minutes away from becoming someone's little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he'll turn out to be tall and just as mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he's tall all right. But he's not just tall ...he's a GIANT. In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

-Just admit it right now, this book sounds nothing like anything you've ever read before (except for someone short wishing they were tall). A GIANT??

Love, Shelley by Kate Saksena

When Shelley decides to share her problems, both problems with her mother and problems at school, she chooses to share them with a pop star she has never met. She writes to him: a letter a month, and with each letter a powerful and moving story unfolds. A story in which Shelley has a lot to deal with and a story that proves that while she may be tested she will not be beaten! Shelley is a remarkable girl with a big heart and a brave spirit. She comes out triumphant.

My review-Great read!

Noughts & Crosses by Marjorie Blackman

Sephy is a Cross - a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought - a 'colourless' member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that's as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools...Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum - a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger.

-I'm currently reading this and well, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Interesting premise though,

Growing Yams in London
by Sophia Acheampong

Makeeda is a fourteen-year-old Ghanian whose love of all things western causes her family to despair. She is always being compared to the dutiful and obedient Afua, her Aunt Grace's daughter. But it seems that whatever Makeeda does, it ends up in trouble. She just wants to hang out with the fit Nelson and her mates, and forget about the Ghanaian stuff. But when she has to do a school project, she begins to understand the depth of her cultural heritage and wonders if she can honour her culture and enjoy life as a London teenager.

I've read this one and it's charming, if not a bit predictable and sometimes vague.

Devil's Kiss
by Sarwat Chadda

Fifteen-year-old Billi SanGreal never meant to make history. Dragged at the age of ten into the modern-day Knights Templar by her father, the Grandmaster, Billi's the first girl ever to be a Templar warrior. Her life is a rigorous and brutal round of weapons' practice, demon killing and occult lore – and a lot of bruises. But then temptation is placed in Billi's path – an alternative to her isolated life. But temptation brings consequences. In this case – the tenth plague – the death of all first borns and so Billi must choose her destiny. And as she soon discovers, death isn't even the worst .

-I just finished this book and my reaction was :0 This was such an intense read. I'm not sure if it counts as paranormal but if so, it's my first paranormal read and I can understand why people love the genre. It was INTENSE. Review won't be up for awhile but this was a fantastic read. Billi is an awesome heroine plus all the supernatural, scary creatures combined with various religious beliefs. *happy sigh* Thank goodness I have friends in high places (ahem really great friends!) because I'm getting the sequel sent from the UK. There's no way I could have waited till 2011 (US release date).

My list is obviously incomplete (Kaz is wonderful about sending me emails with titles of books she's discovered that deal with POC published in the UK) so leave your own recommendations in the comments. Have you read any of the titles I mentioned? Link up your reviews!

All summaries from unless otherwise mentioned
*British accent starts here


  1. Ohhh, I just finished Tall Story a few weeks ago. It's a shame it won't be published in the US for another year or two. It's an EXCELLENT book. Funny, heart-rending, exciting.

  2. What a great post. Also, you already have the Gillian Cross coming your way, along with the Sarwat book & one other surprise. ;) They are going in the mail on Monday. Huzzah!


  3. I've never read any of these books, nor have I even heard of them before. *shameface* They sound so great, though, so I have no doubt that I'll be tracking down some of these titles in the future!

  4. I have The Devil's Kiss but haven't gotten to read it yet. I also have a book published in the UK called The Tribe by Valerie Bloom which is YA historical fiction but I haven't gotten to read it yet. It is about a Taino girl in the Caribbean in the 15th century, I think it's set at the same time/place as the Royal Diary about Anacaona.

  5. Wow! I'm going to look for Bindi Babes - sounds fun.

  6. Marge Pellegrino's Journey of Dreams was originally published in the UK, though as a Frances Lincoln title it's distributed in the US. And you should try to get Anna Perera's Guantanamo Boy, though you can only buy it in the US as an e-book because it's not available in print on this side of the pond at all.

  7. Awesome post, and I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed Devil's Kiss. There's so much depth to that series and when I've started to look into the lore that Sarwat Chadda uses it just gives me so much more to think about. The sequel is every bit as good!

    I'd say Possessing Rayne is eerie rather than all-out scary, but then I'm quite hard to scare. There's a sequel to that one out over here too, Fire and Rayne, which sounds pretty good.

    I have to confess I'm more a fan of the story elements of Noughts and Crosses than the writing style. (Oh, and Malorie Blackman used to come into a music store I worked at, and she is *super* nice.)

    Just loving the summary for Where I Belong, too.

  8. BTW, I was shocked to learn that Idris Elba is British. He does an amazing American accent on The Wire.

  9. Wow these look good! I'm glad to see Zephania is still writing, I reviewed his Gangsta Rap not too long ago.

  10. Great post! Thanks so much for listing these. I'll be looking them up soon!

  11. Fantastic list - lots of books added to my to-read pile :D Although - I think you have the wrong author listed for From Somalia With Love, which is Na'ima B Robert, isn't it?

  12. Well you know I'm starting Devil's Kiss very soon, but thanks for alerting me to the ones I haven't heard about. I didn't know Benjamin Zephania wrote novels, I know him as a childrens poet. Tall Story just got reviewed by Amanda Craig in The Times and eep I think it might be sad, not sure if I can handle it.

  13. fantastic post! Not officially YA, but I loved Helen Oyeyemi's first novel, The Icarus Girl.

  14. @Ann-Heart-rendering? It sounded cute, but I wasn't expecting to hear that it would have an effect on me/my heart :)

    @Kaz-Yay! I sent you your first book too =)

    @Heather-I hadn't heard of many of these either, it's all due to Kaz and Lauren's help and some research on my part ;) I'll be reading all of these eventually!

    @Rebecca-Try and read it soon, it was a great read. You've told me about the Tribe and I keep meaning to look for it, I didn't know it was published in the UK though. Thanks for the rec!

    @Mardel-I know all the covers are adorable and it sounds like a fun read =)

    @Lyn-I liked Field of Dreams, didn't know it was published in the UK. Maybe I could just order Guantanamo Boy from the Book Depository? I don't like reading books online.

    @Laruen-I'm so psyched for the sequel and I'm sure it won't disappoint. You could read that book countless times and it would always give you more to think about! I think I'm going to try Posessing Rayne (and blame you if I get scared! haha jk), I did know there was a sequel, I just didn't want to list it for possible spoilers. I'm almost done with Naguhts & Crosses and it's just.not.working. Very cool that you've met Marjorie Blackman though!

    Music lover and book lover :) You should read Where I Belong (I say this as someone who has yet to read it, lol) and then review it because I compeltely trust your opinion.

  15. @Jenny-I almsot fell over when i heard it, his American accent is so spot on but I want him to get a British role so I can listen to his accent ;D

    @Edi-Did you like Gangsta's Rap? Next up is an Australian feature :)

    @Ebony Joy-Oh good, we have to support our own all over the world!

    @Miss Alice-Oh goodness, I don't know what I was thinking! Thank you for pointing that out, I fixed it =D

    @Jodie-Yay for starting Devil's Kiss soon! I'm surprised by the news that Tall Story is sad, I find that very interesting.

    @olugbemisola-That book is on my list to read, it's been recommended to me a couple times. It probably has crossover appeal. Thank you!

    I'm so glad this post was helpful to people (especially those in America because maybe if we order enough of these books they will get published here!)

  16. Tall Story - the review hinted that it is to do with her brother being so tall and the health problems associated with his condition.

  17. You totally sold me on From Somalia With Love. Looking for it now!

  18. Hi there,
    Thanks for giving my book, 'From Somalia, with love' a mention - much appreciated :) My new one, Far from Home, is a look at the history of Zimbabwe from the indigenous people's perspective - something that might interest you?
    Will send you an email...
    Keep doing what you do, it is much needed.


I love to hear from you!! Thank you for sharing :) And don't be Anon, I try to always reply back and I like to know who I'm replying to ;)