In our third list of our series Black debut authors, we highlight fifteen novels of 2022 ranging from adult science fiction to memoir.
WAHALA by Nikki May
Publisher: HARPER COLLINS (US), TRANSWORLD PRH (UK) Publication Date: January 11, 2022
An incisive and exhilarating debut novel of female friendship following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group—the most unforgettable girls since Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.
MUST LOVE BOOKS by Shauna Robinson
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Meet Nora Hughes―the overworked, underpaid, last bookish assistant standing. At least for now. When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.
With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet...and maybe poach some Parsons authors along the way.
But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or...herself and her future.
BLACK LOVE MATTERS: REAL TALK ON ROMANCE, BEING SEEN, AND HAPPILY EVER AFTERS by Jessica P. Pryde
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Berkley
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
An incisive, intersectional essay anthology that celebrates and examines romance and romantic media through the lens of Black readers, writers, and cultural commentators, edited by Book Riot columnist and librarian Jessica Pryde.
Romantic love has been one of the most essential elements of storytelling for centuries. But for Black people in the United States and across the diaspora, it hasn't often been easy to find Black romance joyfully showcased in entertainment media. In this collection, revered authors and sparkling newcomers, librarians and academicians, and avid readers and reviewers consider the mirrors and windows into Black love as it is depicted in the novels, television shows, and films that have shaped their own stories. Whether personal reflection or cultural commentary, these essays delve into Black love now and in the past, including topics from the history of Black romance to social justice and the Black community to the meaning of desire and desirability.
Exploring the multifaceted ways love is seen--and the ways it isn't--this diverse array of Black voices collectively shines a light on the power of crafting happy endings for Black lovers.
WHAT THE FIREFLIES KNEW by Kai Harris
Publisher: Tiny Reparations Books
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
After her father dies of an overdose and the debts incurred from his addiction cause the loss of the family home in Detroit, almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) and her teenage sister, Nia, are sent by their overwhelmed mother to live with their estranged grandfather in Lansing. Over the course of a single, sweltering summer, KB attempts to get her bearings in a world that has turned upside down—a father who is labeled a fiend; a mother whose smile no longer reaches her eyes; a sister, once her best friend, who has crossed the threshold of adolescence and suddenly wants nothing to do with her; a grandfather who is grumpy and silent; the white kids across the street who are friendly, but only sometimes. And all of them are keeping secrets. Pinballing between resentment, abandonment, and loneliness, KB is forced to carve out a different identity for herself and find her own voice.
As she examines the jagged pieces of her recently shattered world, she learns that while some truths cut deep, a new life—and a new KB—can be built from the shards.
THE BLOOD TRIALS by N. E. Davenport
Publisher: Harper Voyager US
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
It’s all about blood. The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive. The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered. For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her. Who trained her to keep that a secret.
But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order. Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials—a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that—if found out—would subject her to execution...or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them. Mareen has been at peace for a long time... Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that. 5d. https://www.22debuts.com/ne-davenport.html
HOPE AND GLORY by Jendella Benson
Publisher: William Morrow/HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Glory arrives back in south London, from her seemingly glamorous life in LA, to mourn the sudden death of her father, and finds her previously close family has fallen apart in her absence. Her brother, Victor, has been jailed; her sister, Faith, appears to have lost her independence and ambition; and their mother, Celeste, is headed towards a breakdown. Glory is thrown by their disarray, and rather than returning to America she decides to stay and try to bring them all together again. However, when she unearths a huge family secret, Glory risks losing everyone she truly cares about in her pursuit of the truth.
THE FINAL STRIFE by Saara El-Arifi
Publisher: Penguin Random House and HarperCollins
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
In the first book of a visionary African- and Arabian-inspired fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel empire that divides people by blood.
Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance. Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.
Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.
Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But dust always rises in a storm.
Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.
ON ROTATION by Shirlene Obuobi
Publisher: AVON/HARPER COLLINS
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
Ghanaian American Angela Appiah has checked off all the boxes for the “Perfect Immigrant Daughter.” She’s enrolled at an elite medical school, has snagged a parent-approved lawyer boyfriend, and is surrounded by a gaggle of ride-or-die friends. But over the course of a few weeks, her once structured life starts coming apart at the seams. Her boyfriend dumps her, she bombs the most important exam of her medical career, and her closest confidante and roommate pulls away. And her parents, whose opinion of her seems predicated on how closely she follows the predetermined path they’ve set, are suddenly a lot less proud of their eldest daughter.
It’s a quarter life crisis of epic proportions, and Angie, who has always faced her problems by working “twice as hard to get half as far,” is at a loss. Suddenly, she begins to question everything. Her career choice, her friendships, even why she's attracted to men who don't love her as much as she loves them. And just when things couldn’t get more complicated, enter Ricky Gutierrez— brilliant, thoughtful, sexy, and most importantly, seems to see Angie for who she is instead of what she can represent. Unfortunately, he’s also got “wasteman” practically tattooed across his forehead, and Angie’s done chasing mirages of men. Or so she thinks. For someone who’s always been in control, Angie realizes that there’s one thing she can’t plan on: matters of her heart.
THE ACCIDENTAL PINUP by Danielle Jackson
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Photographer Cassie Harris loves her job--her company Buxom Boudoir makes people look beautiful and feel empowered with her modern twist on classic pinup photography. Cassie’s best friend, Dana, is about to launch her own dangerously dreamy lingerie line and wants Cassie to shoot and direct the career-changing national campaign. But company politics and Dana’s complicated pregnancy interfere, and Cassie finds herself--a proud plus size Black woman--not behind the camera but in front of it.
Though she’s never modeled herself, Cassie’s pretty sure she can handle the sheer underwear and caution tape bralettes. She’s not sure she can work so intimately with the chosen photographer, her long-time competitor in the Chicago photography scene, Reid Montgomery. Their chemistry is undeniable on set, however, and feelings can develop faster than film…
EMBERS ON THE WIND by Lisa Williamson Rosenberg
Publisher: Little A Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2022
In 1850, Whittaker House stood as a Massachusetts stop on the Underground Railroad. It’s where two freedom seekers, Little Annie and Clementine, hid and perished in a fire. Whittaker House still stands. And Little Annie and Clementine still linger, their dreams of freedom unfulfilled. Now a fashionably distressed vacation rental in the Berkshires, Whittaker House draws seekers of another kind, Black women who only appear to be free. Among them are Dominque, a single mother following her Grandmere’s stories to Whittaker House in search of an ancestor. And Michelle, Dominique’s lover, who has journeyed to the Berkshire mountains to heal her own traumas. And Kaye, Michelle’s sister, a seer whose visions reveal the past and future secrets of the former safehouse—along with her own.
For each of them, true liberation can only come from uncovering their connection to history—and to the spirits awaiting peace and redemption within the walls of Whittaker House. https://www.22debuts.com/lisa-williamson-rosenberg.html
LONG PAST SUMMER by Noué Kirwan
Publisher: HQN Books/HarperCollins
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Mikaela Marchand is living the polished life she always planned for: a successful New York lawyer, with a promotion in her sights and a devoted boyfriend by her side. She’s come a long way from the meek teen she was growing up in small town Georgia, but the memory of her adolescence isn’t far—in fact, it’s splashed across a massive billboard in Times Square. An old photograph of Mikaela and her former best friend, Julie, has landed on the cover of a high-profile fashion magazine advertised all over the city. And when Julie files a lawsuit, Mikaela is caught in the middle as defense lawyer for the magazine.
Not only will she have to face Julie for the first time in years, Mikaela’s forced to work closely with the photographer in question: the former love of her life--and Julie’s ex-husband--Cameron Murphy. Mikaela needs to win the case to get her promotion--and as a junior partner, she has no margin for error. But unresolved feelings still exist between Cam and Mikaela, and jealousy always made Julie play dirty…
With flashbacks to summers of first loves and fragile friendships, Long Past Summer looks at the delicate and powerful thread that binds and breaks friends and flames.
THE LOST CANTRELL by Shamiso M. Lezard
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: August 3, 2022
All that stood between her and death was a pendant she received by chance. A luxury hotel, a mysterious guest, a secret organization...and a girl caught in the middle. All Ella-Cherie Silver ever wanted was the opportunity to work at the prestigious Lost Cantrell hotel. She never expected that once she got it, an unfortunate chance encounter with a guest, one Mr Zeke Gage, would have her embroiled in a secret crime syndicate named The Organization. Zeke promises Ella a way out of The Org. But can he save her before the criminal underworld claims her conscience or her life? https://www.22debuts.com/shamiso-m-lezard.html
JACKAL by Erin E. Adams
Publisher: Penguin Random House, Bantam Dell
Publication Date: October 4, 2022
JACKAL is an upmarket horror-tinged mystery pitched as The Lovely Bones meets Lovecraft Country, following a young Black woman who reluctantly returns home to small-town Appalachia. She discovers something in the nearby woods has been taking Black girls for years and now it’s snatched her best friend’s daughter. https://www.22debuts.com/erin-e-adams.html
WHEN THEY TELL YOU TO BE GOOD by Prince Shakur
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: October 4, 2022
After immigrating from Jamaica to the United States, Prince Shakur’s family is rocked by the murder of Prince’s biological father in 1995. Behind the murder is a sordid family truth, scripted in the lines of a diary by an outlawed uncle hell-bent on avenging the murder of Prince’s father. As Shakur begins to unravel his family’s secrets, he must navigate the strenuous terrain of conquering one’s inner self while confronting the steeped complexities of the Afro-diaspora.
When They Tell You to Be Good charts Prince Shakur’s political coming of age from closeted queer kid in a Jamaican family to radicalized adult traveler, writer, and anarchist in Obama and Trump’s America. Shakur journeys from France, the Philippines, South Korea, and more to discover the depths of the Black experience, and engages in deep political questions while participating in movements like Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock. By the end, Shakur reckons with his identity, his Jamaican family’s immigration to the US before his birth, and the intergenerational impacts of patriarchal and colonial violence.
A profoundly composed narrative parallel in identity to that of George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue and Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, Shakur compels the reader to consume the political world of young, Black, queer, and radical millennials today.
PRIDE AND PROTEST by Nikki Payne
Publication Date: November 15, 2022 15c.
A woman goes head-to-head with the CEO of a corporation threatening to destroy her neighborhood in this fresh and modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by debut author Nikki Payne.
Liza B–The Only DJ That Gives a Jam—wants to take her neighborhood back from the soulless property developer dropping unaffordable condos on every street corner in DC. But her planned protest at their corporate event takes a turn after she mistakes the smoldering hot CEO for the waitstaff. When they go toe-to-toe, the sparks fly—but her impossible-to-ignore family thwarts her every move. Liza wants Dorsey Fitzgerald out of her hood, but she’ll settle for getting him out of her head.
At first, Dorsey writes Liza Bennett off as an over-caffeinated woke weekend warrior. As the adopted Filipino son of a wealthy white family he’s always felt a bit out of place, and knows a fraud when he sees one. But when Liza’s protest results in a viral meme, their lives are turned upside down and Dorsey comes to realize this irresistible revolutionist is the most real woman he’s ever met. https://www.22debuts.com/nikki-payne.html
What are you adding to your tbr lists?