I was so excited to be gifted a copy of WELL READ BLACK GIRL by Glory Edim from Random House publishers. I stumbled upon the @wellreadblackgirl Instagram page a few months ago and I was inspired. Well-Read Black Girl started as a book club to center and celebrate black literature and has expanded into a huge, and growing, online community and literary festival.
Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
Overview – Spoiler Alert: Medium
Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives—but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.
Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology)
As she has done with her book club–turned–online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Glory Edim has created a space in which black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves.
– Synopsis taken from the book.
Review – Spoiler Alert: Low
Well Read Black Girl is an anthology that shares stories from black women, and centers around the first time they saw themselves represented in literature and the books that left lasting impressions on them. There is also discussion about the importance of representation in literature. Overall this anthology highlights and celebrates black writers, poets and playwrights.
Overall I recommend this book wholeheartedly. If you’re a person of color or you’re simply looking to add some diversity to your reading, this book will provide you with lots of book recommendations. Prepare for your TBR to explode – I know mine did.
Commentary – Spoiler Alert: Low
“Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you?”
I know this may be hard to believe but I never thought about “seeing myself” within the pages of a story or novel, and I have been reading since I was a little girl. I just always thought about them as “stories” – things that aren’t real.
If I never thought about it, and I am a woman of color, it is not a far fetched assumption that representation may not cross the minds of some white people – whose stories and narratives dominate the literary community and by extension the world.
Let us take it a step further. I remember searching for novels written by black authors in the past and noticing that they are not shelved together with the rest of other titles in that genre. One, they are always separated; two, there is only a fraction in stock in comparison to white authors and even other minorities; and three, they are never really promoted as “must reads” in bookstores. Why is this? There are multiple factors – from publishing, to marketing, money, controlling a narrative…etc. The bottom line is, black people and other people of color have been, and still are marginalized.
When I was in school, I opted to read West Indian / Caribbean literature to help me better understand my culture and where I am from. With hindsight, I could relate to some of the experiences described but, I never truly saw myself or found myself. Never, not once. The experiences shared by these women in Well Read Black Girl, and their journeys gave me hope that I may still find that book the captures the essence of me. Or maybe, I need to gather the courage to actually write and share my story.
My hope is that this book is read by people of all races and backgrounds, and that the importance of representation comes through.
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Interested in getting yourself a copy?
Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim – https://amzn.to/2U1FhgE
Have you read WELL READ BLACK GIRL? Is it on your TBR?
Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below.