Celebrating Black History Month

15 October 2019

Here at Serpent’s Tail, we are proud of publishing books that we think matter, books that push boundaries, books that engage the reader and challenge them as well. We are also proud of our diverse catalogue and to celebrate Black History Month, we want to shine the spotlight on black authors we have published over the last year.

Follow us on Twitter @serpentstail and let us know what you’re reading for #blackhistorymonth

 Image of There Will Be No Miracles Here cover

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald

2019 began with a memoir on race, sexuality and masculinity in the 21st century. Gerald takes us on a moving journey that unravels the promise of prosperity and success that America was built on. Growing up gay in an ordinary black neighbourhood in Dallas, his parents struggling with mental health problems and addiction, Casey finds himself on a remarkable path to a prestigious Ivy League college, to the inner sanctums of power on Wall Street and in Washington DC. But even as he attains everything the American Dream promised him, Casey comes to see that salvation stories like his own are part of the plan to keep others from rising. Intense, incantatory, shot through with sly humour and quiet fury, There Will Be No Miracles Here is an extraordinary memoir that forces us to judge our society not on those who rise highest, but on those left behind along the way.

Embrace your raw, strange magic with Casey Gerald:

Follow Casey on Twitter: @CaseyGerald

Praise for There Will Be No Miracles Here

‘Remarkable on every level … a beautiful chronicle of a life as yet unfinished … a shining and sincere miracle of a book’
NPR

‘Searing . . . rendered in vivid, painful, and regularly funny reminiscence. But more than anything else, this bildungsroman is a wry document of American class strata.’
O, The Oprah Magazine

 Image of Washington Black cover

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 and winner of The Scotiabank Giller Prize 2018, Washington Black is an incredible epic inspired by a true story. Washington Black, an 11-year old field slave, finds himself selected as a personal servant for one of the two English brothers who have taken helm of the sugar plantation. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.
Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape together, but then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

ESCAPE IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

Praise for Washington Black

‘A masterpiece’ Attica Locke

‘Destined to become a future classic … that rare book that should appeal to every kind of reader’ Guardian

Image of A Lucky Man cover

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

A Lucky Man uncovers the inner lives of black men and boys and is an expansive fiction debut from a major new voice. In the nine unforgettable stories, Jamel Brinkley explores the unseen tenderness of black men and boys: the struggle to love and be loved, the invisible ties of family and friendship, and the inescapable forces of race, class and masculinity. A teen intent on proving himself a man at an all-night rave is preoccupied by watching out for his impressionable younger brother. A pair of young men who follow two girls home from a party face the uncomfortable truth of their desires. An imaginative boy from the inner city goes swimming in the suburbs, and faces the effects of privilege in ways he can barely grasp. And at a capoeira conference, two brothers grapple with their painful family history.

Follow Jamel on Twitter: @jamelbrinkley

Praise for A Lucky Man

‘Sensuous, sensual, sharply observed stories. A really striking debut.’ Adam O’Riordan

‘Jamel Brinkley’s stories tell of absence and abandonment, always edged with pain and beauty … a magnificent debut’
Laila Lalami

‘Outstanding…smart and moving’ Curtis Sittenfield

Image of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments cover

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Revered by literary icons such as Carmen Maria Machado and Maggie Nelson, Hartman resurrects the forgotten histories of black women around the turn of the century and weaves an intricate and intimate account of their lives.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, black women in the US were carving out new ways of living. The first generations born after emancipation, their struggle was to live as if they really were free. Their defeats were bitter, but their triumphs became the blueprint for a world that was waiting to be born. These women refused to labour like slaves or to accept degrading conditions of work. Wrestling with the question of freedom, they invented forms of love and solidarity outside convention and law. These were the pioneers of free love, common-law and transient marriages, queer identities, and single motherhood – all deemed scandalous, even pathological, at the dawn of the twentieth century, though they set the pattern for the world to come.

Revolution in a minor key: how young black women invented freedom

Follow Saidiya on Twitter: @sojournerlife

Praise for Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

‘Ambitious, original… a beautiful experiment in its own right’ Maggie Nelson
‘A startling, dazzling act of resurrection’ Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
Exhilarating….A rich resurrection of a forgotten history’ The New York Times

Image of Heaven, My Home cover

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

Nine-year-old Levi King knew he should have left for home sooner; instead he found himself all alone, adrift on the vastness of Caddo Lake. A sudden noise – and all goes dark. Ranger Darren Matthews is trying to emerge from another kind of darkness; his career and reputation lie in the hands of his mother, who’s never exactly had his best interests at heart. Now she holds the key to his freedom, and she’s not above a little blackmail to press her advantage. An unlikely possibility of rescue arrives in the form of a case down Highway 59, in a small lakeside town. With Texas already suffering a new wave of racial violence in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, a black man is a suspect in the possible murder of a missing white boy: the son of an Aryan Brotherhood captain.

In deep country where the rule of law only goes so far, Darren has to battle centuries-old prejudices as he races to save not only Levi King, but himself.

In a divided world, must we forgive the past before mending the present?

Follow Attica on Twitter: @atticalocke

Praise for Heaven, My Home

‘One of America’s finest crime novelists … a beautifully wrought mystery and an incisive portrait of the American South in the age of Trump.’ – The Daily Mail

‘A tightly plotted crime novel centring on the disappearance of a child, and a blistering look at race in Donald Trump’s America.’ – iPaper

‘The most celebrated African-American writer of crime fiction. Although her books are about the black experience in the US, they are universal in scope … a consummate storyteller.’ – Financial Times

Follow us on Twitter @serpentstail and let us know what you’re reading for #blackhistorymonth