Black British writers you should know about

Breaking into the writing word is hard. The industry seemingly likes to champion Black writers one at at time.

Growing up as an avid reader, chances in finding a book written by a person of colour for people of colour from the UK, were close to none. However, in the past few years, there has been a surge in recognising talent and acknowledging diversity in the publishing world. A lot of gems survived  being tossed aside in the name of saving the publication’s face and the likes of Zadie smith and Malorie Blackman have become household names. There are so many talented black writers who deserve recognition for the hard work they’ve put in to the publishing world.

Here are writers whose works you need to check out with a cuppa at hand.

Diriye Osman

The fierce, unapologetic Diriye Osman; a British-Somali author, Visual artist, critic and essayist based in London. He is the author of the Polari prize-winning collection of stories Fairy tales for lost children, making him the first writer from Africa to receive this award. As a gay man  from a conservative family, his desire to explore his sexuality as a timid, closeted teenager was punctured by poverty.  Diagnosed with psychosis and hospitalised for 6 months, left him traumatised and led him to stop speaking altogether. Reading as widely as possible made him start to speak in a new founded clarity.

The books I had read opened me up to other ways of being. But I hungered for characters and stories that echoed my own experiences. When I couldn’t find any, I began writing my own.

Check out his work hereDiriyeOsman 

Hannah Black

This woman does it all.

Born in Manchester, she is a conceptual visual artist and a writer, her work spans video, text and performance and draws on a feminist, communist and Afro-pessimist theory.  As well as being a contributing editor to the New York based magazine, The New Inquiry, she also published her first collection of writing titled Dark Pool Party In 2016. The book consists of seven texts “that blur the lines of fiction, nonfiction, cultural criticism, critique, and poetry.’ She’s mostly famous for posting an open letter to the curators of the Whitney Biennial exhibition on her Facebook page in response to the painting Open Casket by American artist Dana Schutz.

Black wrote

It is not acceptable for a white person to transmute Black suffering into profit and fun, though the practice has been normalized for a long time. Although Schutz’s intention may be to present white shame, this shame is not correctly represented as a painting of a dead Black boy by a white artist—those non-Black artists who sincerely wish to highlight the shameful nature of white violence should first of all stop treating Black pain as raw material. The subject matter is not Schutz’s; white free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go.


You can check out here visual work here: HannahBlack

Nadifa Mohamed 

Born in Hargeisa, Somalila, she initially accompanied her father, a sailor in the merchant navy and moved with her family to London. What was initially thought to be a temporary stay turned into a permanent visit as the Civil war broke out shorty afterwards in Somalia, so she remained alongside her family in the UK. Her first novel, Black Mamba boy,  is a semi-biographical account of her father’s life in Yemen in the 1930’s and 40’s during the colonial period.

She said

The novel grew out of a desire to learn more about my roots, to elucidate Somali history for a wider audience and to tell a story that I found fascinating.

The book won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award, the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. It was also long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.

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She presently lives in London and currently working on a third novel.

Check out her work here: NadifaMohamed


Kwame Kwei-Armah

A playwright, actor, director, singer and broadcaster, he’s the first black Briton to have a play staged in the West End Theatre of London. He changed his name at 19 after tracing his family history, through the slave trade back to his ancestral African roots in Ghana.  He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to drama.





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