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Black History Month:  

About this guide


In celebration of Black History Month 2021, this guide has been guest-curated by author and recent Camosun graduate, N.P. (Nyasha) Katedza. The resources in this guide were selected for their impact and influence on her life and literary practice. Learn more about Nyasha – and her writing – in the biography below.


N.P. Katedza was born into the Rhodesia of the '60s. She spent her formative years in Rhodesia, the United States, and the newly independent Zimbabwe. Katedza completed her MLA (Medical Laboratory Assistant) studies at Camosun College in 2020, and attained her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

A self-proclaimed wanderer, Katedza has lived in four out of the world’s recognized seven continents, and has the other three on her bucket list. Her storytelling reflects this global perspective, with her collection of short stories, Short Stories, Insignificant Lives, speaking to the commonality of human experience.

In Katedza's debut novel, Bound, the collision of two cultures exposes a hidden past in the culmination of a journey from Apartheid South Africa. Her dystopian tale "Another Land" appears in the 2016 Poetry Institute of Canada anthology, In the Wake of the Moon, and her autobiographical poem "Raging Silence" appears in the 2019 anthology Township Girls: The Crossover Generation (Weaver Press).

Katedza's screenplay “The Girls” was a 2019 PAGE Award contender. Her new book of short stories, Another Land: Stories II, was published in late 2020 (Flame Lily Publishing).

N.P. Katedza in the Camosun Collection

Media


Hidden Figures

Directed byTheodore Melfi
2017

Cover art from film

12 Years a Slave

Directed by Steve McQueen
2014

Cover art for film

Get Out

Directed by Jordan Peele
2017

Cover art from TV series

Dear White People

Directed by Justin Simien
TV series, 2017

Cover art from film

Do the Right Thing

Directed by Spike Lee
1989

Cover art from film

Black Panther

Directed by Brian Coogler
2018

Cover art from film

Eve's Bayou

Directed by Kasi Lemmons
1997

Classics

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Alex Haley, 1976, 2014 edition
Introduction by Michael Eric Dyson & Alex Haley
Call number: E 185.97 H24 A33 2014

Based off of the bestselling author's family history, this novel tells the story of Kunta Kinte, who is sold into slavery in the United States where he and his descendants live through major historic events. When Roots was first published, the book electrified the nation: it received a Pulitzer Prize and was a #1 New York Times bestseller for 22 weeks. Since then, the story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants has lost none of its power to enthrall and provoke. Now, Roots once again bursts onto the national scene, and at a time when the race conversation has never been more charged. It is a book for the legions of earlier readers to revisit and for a new generation to discover. 

A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry, 1959, 1994 edition
Introduction by Robert Nemiroff
Call number: PS 3515 A515 R3 1994

"Never before, the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of black people's lives been seen on the stage," observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959. Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of Black America. The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun." This edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work.

Notes of a Native Son

James Baldwin, 1958, 2017 edition
Call number: PS 3552 A45 G62 2016

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of Black life and Black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being Black in America from life in Harlem, to the protest novel, movies, and the experience of African Americans abroad and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. In an age of Black Lives Matter, Baldwin's essays are as powerful today as when they were first written.

Song of Solomon

Toni Morrison, 1977, 1993 edition
Call number: PS 3563 O8749 S699 1977

Song of Solomon, a novel of large beauty and power, creates a magical world out of four generations of black life in America, a world we enter on the day of the birth of Macon Dead, Jr. (known as Milkman), son of the richest Black family in a mid-western town; the day on which the lonely insurance man, Robert Smith, poised in blue silk wings, attempts to fly from a steeple of the hospital, a Black Icarus looking homeward... This is a novel that expresses, with passion, tenderness, and a magnificence of language, the mysterious primal essence of family bond and conflict, the feelings and experience of all people wanting, and striving, to be alive.

Any Known Blood

Lawrence Hill, 2011 
Call number: PS 8565 I444 A89 2011

Spanning five generations, sweeping across a century and a half of almost unknown history, this acclaimed and unexpectedly funny novel is the story of a man seeking himself in the mirror of his family’s past. Rich in historical detail and gracefully flowing from the slave trade of nineteenth-century Virginia to the present, Any Known Blood gives life to a story never before told, a story of five generations of a Black Canadian family whose tragedies and victories merge with the American experience.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston, 1937, 1991 edition
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, foreword by Ruby Dee, introduction by Sherley Anne Williams
Call number: PS 3515 U789 T639 1991

One of the most important novels of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God illuminates a Southern love story unlike any other. Initially rejected by audiences for its portrayal of its strong Black female protagonist, the work has since been epitomized in the canon of African-American literature, solidifying Zora Neale Hurston as one of our most influential voices.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin, 1953, 2016 edition
Introduction by Edwidge Danticat
Call number: PS 3552 A45 G62 2016

This haunting coming-of-age story portrays a fourteen-year-old boy questioning the terms of his identity. John Grimes is the stepson of a fire-breathing and abusive Pentecostal preacher in Harlem during the Depression. The action of this short novel spans a single day in John's life, and yet manages to encompass on an epic scale his family's troubled past and his own inchoate longings for the future, set against a shining vision of a city where he both does and does not belong. Baldwin's story illuminates the racism his characters face as well as the double-edged role religion plays in their lives, both oppressive and inspirational. 

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe, 1958, 2009 (50th anniversary) edition
Call number: PR 9837.9 A3 T5 2009 

Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a "strong man" of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first story traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives. It provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual society. The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing the life of nature, history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. 

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison, 1952, 2014 edition
Call number: PS 3555 L625 I5 2014

The invisible man is the unnamed narrator of this impassioned novel of Black lives in 1940s America. Embittered by a country which treats him as a non-being he retreats to an underground cell.

Originally published in 1952 as the first novel by a then unknown author, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

Clarence and Corinne; or God's Way

Amelia E. Johnson, 1890, 1988 edition
Introduction by Hortense J. Spillers
Call number: PS 2134 J515 C5 1988

Published in 1890 by Canadian poet and novelist, A. E. Johnson, this novel reflects the social reform ideology of the US women's movement in the late nineteenth century. Its theme is the destructive effect of the 'demon' alcohol on the family. The Baptist Messenger, a Black religious publication, called it 'one of the silent, yet powerful agents at work to break down unreasonable prejudice, which is a hindrance to both races.'