Stealth Isolation: 5 Dark Fiction Books That Are Great Escapes


There is no shame in feeling the need to escape. When you are placed under a local government-sanctioned lockdown, the whole experience can feel surreal, unfamiliar and uncertain – with all due respect to the millions of black people who are or have been incarcerated, we respect your struggle.

That said, now might be the time to dive into some dark fiction novels. Why not experiment and read your first science fiction book from visionary writer, NK Jemisin, or indulge in reading new fiction from a nostalgic literary friend like Terry McMillan? Black writers have gifts that take us through different colorful worlds of imagination and intricately woven stories. The current state of affairs can make reality dark and all too real, but never forget that we have options and outlets that can keep us creative, open-minded and excited about the future if we engage with the black art and support the artists who provide us with entertainment that heals and inspires.

“It’s Not All Downhill From Here” by Terry McMillan (Ballantine Books)

Terry McMillan’s latest book instantly became a New York Times bestseller. The book follows the life of McMillan’s vivacious character, Loretha Curry, whose life is full and even a little cluttered. On the eve of her 68th birthday, she has a burgeoning beauty product empire, a band of lifelong friends and a husband whose moves still amaze. She’s determined to prove her mother, her twin sister, and anyone with this outdated view of how bad aging is wrong. It’s not all downhill from here. But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to muster all her strength, ingenuity and determination to continue to thrive, seek joy, heal old wounds and chart new paths – with a little help from her friends. , courses.

“Hitting a Straight Tongue with a Crooked Stick” by Zora Neale Hurston (Amistad)

In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston—the college’s only black student—was living in New York City, “desperately struggling to gain a grip on the world”. During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African-American life and made her one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period. “Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick” is an exceptional collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflects African American folk culture. Collected for the first time in a single volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” stories of Harlem, which have been found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as a writer of rural fiction and include gems that shine with his biting, satirical humor, as well as more serious stories that reflect the cultural undercurrents of Hurston’s world.

“Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid (GP Putnam’s Sons)

A gripping and surprising debut novel in an uplifting new voice, “Such a Fun Age” is a heartfelt, page-turning story about race and privilege, about a young black babysitter, her well-to-do employer. intent and a surprising connection that threatens to unravel them both. Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has earned her living, with her brand all about trust, showing other women how to do the same. So she’s shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted as she watches the Chamberlains’ toddler one night stroll through the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a passerby films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix decides to fix things.

“The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray (Berkley)

The Butler family has had its share of trials – as sisters Althea, Viola and Lillian can attest – but nothing has prepared them for the literal ordeal that will turn their lives upside down. Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately relished and resented her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in the blink of an eye the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. What’s worse is that even her sisters don’t know exactly what happened. As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must reunite at the home they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story as important as it is important.

“How long until Black Future Month?” by NK Jemisin (Orbit)

NK Jemisin, three-time Hugo Award winner and NYT bestselling author, challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking tales of destruction, rebirth and redemption that take a deep dive into modern society in her first collection of short fiction, which includes untold stories. Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society observes our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fairy offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo-nominated short story “The City Born Great”, a young street kid struggles to give birth to the soul of an old metropolis.

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