Adult Fiction & Non-Fiction

Celebrating Canadian Black History Month!

Learn more about Black History Month in Canada here: 

https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month.html

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Angry queer Somali boy : a complicated memoir

Angry queer Somali boy : a complicated memoir

Ali, Mohamed Abdulkarim, 1985- author
2019

Writing from a homeless shelter in downtown Toronto, Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali chronicles how he ended up there in this powerful and often irreverent memoir of exile, addiction, and racism. Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia's societal implosion, Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then on to Canada. With its promise of freedom, opportunity, and multiculturalism, his new home seemed to offer a new lease on life. But unable to fit in, he turned to partying and drugs. Interwoven with world history and sociopolitical commentary on Somalia, Canada, and Europe, the story of this gay Muslim immigrant is told with tenderness in a refreshing and welcome new voice. Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali lives in Toronto. This is his first book.

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The black battalion : 1916-1920 : Canada's best kept military secret

The black battalion : 1916-1920 : Canada's best kept military secret

Ruck, Calvin W. (Calvin Woodrow), 1925-2004.
2016

"Black military heritage in Canada is still generally unknown and unwritten. Most Canadians have no idea that Blacks served, fought, and died on European battlefields, all in the name of freedom. The story of the overt racist treatment of Black volunteers is a shameful chapter in Canadian history. It does, however, represent an important part of the Black legacy and the Black experience. It is a story worth reporting and worth sharing. In this thirtieth-anniversary edition of Ruck's celebrated history of Nova Scotia's No. 2 Construction Battalion, known as the Black Battalion, the original text and over 60 photographs and documents is presented for a whole new generation of readers, along with a new foreword and photographs from journalist Lindsay Ruck, Calvin W. Ruck's proud granddaughter."-- Provided by publisher.

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Brown girl in the ring

Brown girl in the ring

Hopkinson, Nalo.
1998

A story of Afro-Caribbean magic, ancient spirits who rule human lives, and a young woman forced to fend for herself in a 21st-century Toronto that has fallen into economic collapse.

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Days by moonlight

Days by moonlight

Alexis, André, 1957- author
2019

Almost a year to the date of his parents' death, botanist Alfred Homer, ever hopeful and constantly surprised, is invited on a road trip by his parents' friend Professor Morgan Bruno. Professor Bruno wants company as he tries to unearth the story of the mysterious and perhaps dead poet John Skennen. But Days By Moonlight is also a journey through an underworld that looks like southern Ontario, a journey taken during the hour of the wolf, that time of day when the sun is setting and the traveller can't tell the difference between dog and wolf, a time when the world and the imagination won't stay in their own lanes. Alfred and the Professor encounter towns where Black residents speak only in sign language during the day and towns that hold Indigenous Parades; it is a land of house burnings, werewolves, witches, and plants with unusual properties.

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Frying plantain : stories

Frying plantain : stories

Reid-Benta, Zalika, 1990- author
2019

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle--of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a "true" Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother's rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too "faas" or too "quiet" or too "bold" or too "soft." Set in "Little Jamaica," Toronto's Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig's head in her great aunt's freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother's house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents. A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.

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How she read : poems

How she read : poems

Gibson, Chantal N., poet
2019

How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of Black women, their hearts, minds and bodies, across the Canadian cultural imagination. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art, media and pop culture, Chantal Gibson's sassy semiotics highlight the depth and duration of the imperialist ideas embedded in everyday things, from storybooks to coloured pencils, from paintings to postage stamps. A mediation on motherhood and daughterhood, belonging, loss and recovery, the collection weaves the voices of Black women, past and present. As Gibson dismantles the grammar of her Queen Elizabeth English, sister scholars talk back, whisper, suck teeth, curse and carry on from canonized texts, photographs and art gallery walls, reinterpreting their image, re-reading their bodies and claiming their space in a white, hegemonic landscape. Using genre-bending dialogue poems and ekphrasis, Gibson reveals the dehumanizing effects of mystifying and simplifying images of Blackness. Undoing the North Star freedom myth, Harriet Tubman and Viola Desmond shed light on the effects of erasure in the time of reconciliation and the dangers of squeezing the past into a Canada History Minute or a single postage stamp. Centrefolds Delia and Marie Therese discuss their naked Black bodies and what it means to be enslaved, a human subject of art and an object of science, while Veronica? tells it like it is, what it means to hang with the Group of Seven on the walls of the Art Gallery of Ontario amongst the lakes, the glaciers, the mountains and the dying trees. Supported by the voices of Black women writers, the poems unloose the racist misogyny, myths, tropes and stereotypes women of colour continue to navigate every day. Thoughtful, sassy, reflective and irreverent, How She Read leaves a Black mark on the landscape as it illustrates a writer's journey from passive receiver of racist ideology to active cultural critic in the process of decolonizing her mind.

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Monoceros : a novel

Monoceros : a novel

Mayr, Suzette
2011

Unicorns, Ethiopian food, a Wonder Woman drag queen: Monoceros offers a funny, heartbreaking look at the tragedy of teen suicide.

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The rage of dragons

The rage of dragons

Winter, Evan, author
2019

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

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Reproduction : a novel

Reproduction : a novel

Williams, Ian, 1979- author
2019

Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. While Felicia and Edgar don't quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son. This is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn't a matter of blood.

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The second life of Samuel Tyne : a novel

The second life of Samuel Tyne : a novel

Edugyan, Esi.
2004

Samuel Tyne is a Ghanaian immigrant living in Calgary with his wife Maud, and his 13-year-old twin girls, when he unexpectedly inherits his uncle's crumbling mansion in Aster, Alberta. At first, Aster seems perfect to Samuel, the formerly all-black town represents the return to a communal, idyllic way of life. But he soon discovers the town's problems. As his ambitions intensify, the life he has struggled so hard to improve begins to disintegrate around him, and a dark current of menace in the town is turned upon the Tyne family.

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Shame on me : an anatomy of race and belonging

Shame on me : an anatomy of race and belonging

McWatt, Tessa, author
2020

Tessa McWatt has been judged not black enough by people who assume she straightens her hair. Now, through a close examination of her own body - nose, lips, hair, skin, eyes, ass, bones and blood - which holds up a mirror to the way culture reads all bodies, she asks why we persist in thinking in terms of race today when racism is killing us. This is a personal and powerful exploration of history and identity, colour and desire from a writer who, having been plagued with confusion about her race all her life, has at last found kinship and solidarity in story.

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Shut up you're pretty : stories

Shut up you're pretty : stories

Mutonji, Téa, 1995- author
2019

These punchy, sharply observed stories blur the lines between longing and choosing, exploring the narrator's experience as an involuntary one. Tinged with pathos and humour, they interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

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The skin we're in : a year of Black resistance and power

The skin we're in : a year of Black resistance and power

Cole, Desmond, 1982- author
2020

Both Desmond Cole's activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book - puncturing once and for all the bubble of Canadian smugness and naïve assumptions of a post-racial nation. Cole chronicles just one year - 2017 - in the struggle against racism in this country. In a month-by-month chronicle, Cole locates the deep cultural, historical, and political roots of each event so that what emerges is a personal, painful, and comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality.

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Such a lonely, lovely road : a novel

Such a lonely, lovely road : a novel

Molope, Kagiso Lesego, 1976-
2018

"South Africa. All his life Kabelo Mosala has been the perfect child to his doting but emotionally absent parents, who show him off every chance they get. Both his parents and his small community look forward to him coming back after medical school and practicing with his father. They also plan to give him the perfect township wedding. But Kabelo's one wish has always been to get as far away from the township as he possibly can and never come back. A few weeks before he leaves for university, however, he forms a close bond with Sediba, one of his childhood friends, confirming his long-standing suspicion that he is gay. When he arrives at the University of Cape Town, Kabelo meets Rodney, a white student who is also gay. Rodney throws parties where Kabelo becomes more and more comfortable with his sexuality. But when things turn chaotic Kabelo flees to Durban, where he buries his nose in books and tries to live more responsibly. A chance encounter with Sediba in Durban sparks a wonderful love affair that brings Kabelo out of many years of loneliness. In Durban they can live as they wish because no one knows them and they have more freedom than they've ever had before. Their relationship is thrown into turmoil by social pressures and conflicting desires, and it starts to look as if they can't be together. When the time comes for Kabelo to return home, Sediba appears to have given up, announcing that he is thinking of marrying a woman and giving up hope of being with the man he loves. But against all odds the two young men make their way back to each other, risking scorn from the community of people who raised them."-- Provided by publisher.

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They call me George : the untold story of black train porters and the birth of modern Canada

They call me George : the untold story of black train porters and the birth of modern Canada

Foster, Cecil, 1954- author
2019

"A historical work that chronicles the little-known stories of black railway porters-the so-called "Pullmen" of the Canadian rail lines. The actions and spirit of these men helped define Canada as a nation in surprising ways, effecting race relations, human rights, North American multiculturalism, community building, the shape and structure of unions, and the nature of travel and business across the US and Canada. Drawing on the stories and legends of several of these influential early black Canadians, this book narrates the history of a very visible, but rarely considered, aspect of black life in railway-age Canada. These porters, who fought against the idea of Canada as White Man's Country, open only to immigrants from Europe, fought for and won a Canada that would provide opportunities for all its citizens."-- Provided by publisher.

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They said this would be fun : race, campus life, and growing up

They said this would be fun : race, campus life, and growing up

Martis, Eternity, author
2020

Eternity Martis thought going away to university would help her discover who she really is. When she heads out to the predominantly white college town of London, Ontario, Eternity discovers an entitled culture of racism and sexism. What follows is a memoir of struggle about the difficulty of navigating through white spaces as a young woman of colour. Most of all, it's a story of perseverance and discovery. What we're left with is a portrait of the work students of colour must do to fight for themselves in spaces where they are supposed to be safe to learn and grow.

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Things are good now : stories

Things are good now : stories

Ibrahim, Djamila, 1975-, author
2018


Until we are free : reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada

Until we are free : reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada

2020

"An anthology of writing addressing the most urgent issues facing the Black community in Canada. The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by a white assailant inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, which quickly spread outside the borders of the United States. The movement's message found fertile ground in Canada, where Black activists speak of generations of injustice and continue the work of the Black liberators who have come before them. Until We Are Free contains some of the very best African-Canadian writing on the hottest issues facing the Black community in Canada. It describes the latest developments in Canadian Black activism, organizing efforts through the use of social media, Black-Indigenous alliances, and more. Rodney Diverlus is a Port-au-Prince-born, Toronto-based dance artist, curator, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. Sandy Hudson is the founder of the Black Lives Matter movement presence in Canada and Black Lives Matter--Toronto and a co-founder of Black Liberation Collective Canada. Syrus Marcus Ware is a core team member of Black Lives Matter Toronto, a Vanier Scholar, a facilitator and designer for the CulturalLeaders Lab, and an award-winning artist and educator. Contributors Silvia Argentina Arauz, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Patrisse Cullors, Giselle Dias, Omisoore Dryden, Paige Galette, Dana Inkster, Sarah Jama, El Jones, Anique Jordan, Dr. Naila Keleta Mae, Janaya Khan, Gilary Massa, Robyn Maynard, Leroi Newbold, QueenTite Opaleke, Randolph Riley, Camille Turner, Ravyn Wngz."-- Provided by publisher.

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Washington Black

Washington Black

Edugyan, Esi, author
2018