Amplify Black Voices: Celebrating Debut Authors
February 1, 2024

Amplify Black Voices: Celebrating Debut Authors

Erin Murphy By Erin Murphy

Welcome to Black History Month! The national theme of this year’s Black History Month is “African Americans and the Arts”, honoring the profound influence Black Americans have had “in the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression.”

In celebration, we’re showcasing a number of Black authors who made their literary debuts in 2023 and early 2024: in this list you’ll find family stories, coming-of-age novels, and audiobooks of essays that reflect our right now.

Press play with a hearty cheers to the accomplishments of these newly-minted authors!

Redwood Court by DéLana R. A. Dameron

On Redwood Court, the cul-de-sac in the all-Black working-class suburb of Columbia, South Carolina, where her grandparents live, Mika Tabor learns important lessons from the people who raise her by listening to their stories and witnessing their struggles.

With visceral clarity and powerful prose, Dameron reveals the devastation of being made to feel invisible and the transformative power of being seen. Redwood Court is a celebration of extraordinary, ordinary people striving to achieve their own American dreams.

Dominoes by Phoebe McIntosh

When Layla (a mixed-race woman) and Andy (a white man of Scottish descent) first meet at a party, they can’t believe how instant their chemistry is, and how quickly their relationship unfolds. Funnily enough, they even share a last name: McKinnon. Layla’s best friend Sera prompts Layla to research her heritage more, leading her to make a shocking discovery: It’s extremely likely that Andy’s ancestors enslaved Layla’s in Jamaica.

As the clock ticks down to her wedding, Layla must make a decision: commit to the man she loves or expose a shameful history that has gone unspoken for far too long.

The History of a Difficult Child by Mihret Sibhat

Selam Asmelash is the youngest child in her large, boisterous family. She has a wry, bewitching omniscience that animates life in Ethiopia in the 1980s. Selam and her father listen to the radio in secret as the socialist military junta that overthrew the government seizes properties and wages civil war.

The Asmelashes are ostracized under the new regime, but stand solidly in opposition to the times, and Selam grows up seeking revenge on despotic comrades, neighborhood bullies, and a ruthless God. Wise beyond her years, she contends with an inner fury, a profound sadness, and a throbbing, unstoppable pursuit of education, freedom, and love. 

In Our Shoes by Brianna Holt

In this fresh exploration of cultural appropriation, wokeness, tone policing, and more, Brianna Holt carefully dismantles myths about Black womanhood, allowing listeners to assess their biases while examining the roles Black millennial women are forced to take on simply to survive.

A history, a work of criticism, a piece of reporting, and a call to action, In Our Shoes is a timely exploration of race and womanhood that will entertain, inspire, and inform in equal measures.

Remember Me Now by Faitth Brooks

When Breonna Taylor was killed, her police report was virtually blank. Feeling as if she was suffocating in the initial silence and lack of public outcry, anti-racism educator and activist Faitth Brooks wondered, “Would the world care about and remember me if I was killed?”

In Remember Me Now, Faitth grapples with the answer. Filled with transporting stories, poems, and letters to sisters of all walks of life, Remember Me Now is a transformational read that calls Black women to be their own activists. It’s a reminder to all that Black women matter, and our lives, voices, and stories are worth everything.

Dances by Nicole Cuffy

At twenty-two years old, Cece Cordell reaches the pinnacle of her career as a ballet dancer when she’s promoted to principal at the New York City Ballet. As she waits for some feeling of belonging within the ballet she begins to unravel the loose threads of her past, including a missing older brother who disappeared to deal with his own demons.

Soon, Cece is faced with a choice that has the potential to derail her career and shatter the life she’s cultivated for herself, sending her on a pilgrimage to both find her brother and reclaim the parts of herself lost in the grinding machinery of the traditional ballet world.

What Napoleon Could Not Do by DK Nnuro

When siblings Jacob and Belinda Nti were growing up in Ghana, their goal was simple: to move to America. Jacob envies his sister, Belinda, who achieved, as their father put it, “what Napoleon could not do”: she went to college and law school in the United States and even managed to marry Wilder, a wealthy Black businessman from Texas. 

For these Jacob, Belinda, and Wilder, their desires and ambitions highlight the promise and the disappointment that life in America offers. How each character comes to understand this and how each learns from both their dashed hopes and their fulfilled dreams