A Bit of Difference by Sefi Atta (Interlink, Dec.). An unmarried Nigerian expatriate female, dissatisfied with her privileged life in contemporary London, returns to Nigeria for a family gathering only to begin examining her life ever more sharply.
The Gospel According to Cane by Courttia Newland (Akashic Books, Feb. 2013). The infant son of a young contemporary London mother is kidnapped. Despite a full investigation and a reward, he is never found. Years later, her marriage ended, the mother’s long-lost son returns as a young man.
Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett (Graywolf, Feb. 2013). A story inside a story inside a story, Everett’s latest metanarrative presents an old man, his son, and a novel that may or may not connect them across a gulf of misunderstanding.
David by Ray Robertson (Biblioasis, Jan.). Born a slave but raised a free man, David settles in the Canadian town of Chatham; the story and fictional town is inspired by the Elgin Settlement, a town that housed 75 free black families in the 1850s.
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke (Harper, Sept.). A contemporary murder tale is set in post-Katrina Louisiana on an antebellum plantation that seems to exist in both the past and the present. The book is the lead title for Dennis Lehane’s new line of books at Harper.
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central, Mar. 2013). Surgically separated from her twin sister at birth, Makeda is the nonmystical daughter of a magical family. But when her magical father disappears, Makeda must find her own magic and reconcile with her sister.
Bachelor Unclaimed by Brenda Jackson (Harlequin Kimani, Feb. 2013). A reporter and former politician, Ainsly St. James has a one-night stand with a sexy stranger, only to discover later that she has to cover a story about the same man and deal with a love she can’t forget.
Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line by Tom Dunkel (Atlantic Monthly, Apr. 2013). Long before Jackie Robinson, a virtually forgotten 1930s semipro baseball team in North Dakota—featuring the inimitable Satchel Paige—integrated the pro game.
The Double V by Rawn James Jr. (Bloomsbury, Jan. 2013). When President Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. military in 1948, it marked the culmination of 150 years of struggle. James looks at African-Americans in the military from Crispus Attucks to Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama.
Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video (Yale Univ., Oct.). The first major survey collects the acclaimed photographs and video work of Weems. The book accompanies an exhibition of her works traveling to Nashville; Portland, Ore.; Cleveland, Ohio; Palo Alto, Calif.; and New York City.
Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer (Temple Univ., Jan. 2013). Acclaimed photographic historian Willis teams with historian Krauthamer to collect 150 photographs from the 1850s to the New Deal that present a visual depiction of the impact of emancipation on black America.
Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story by Wyclef Jean with Anthony Bozza (HarperCollins/It Books, Sept.). A memoir of the pop/hip-hop superstar that looks back on his birth in Haiti, his family’s move to New York City, and the poverty and struggle that preceded his rise to stardom with the Fugees in 1996.
Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge by Drew Sharp (Human Kinetics, Nov.). A new biography takes the reader from the basketball courts of Washington, D.C., where Bing grew up, to Syracuse University, the National Basketball Association, and Detroit, where he capped an already inspirational life by being elected mayor.
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (Crown, Sept.). An impressively researched biography of Alex Dumas, the father of the great French 19th-century writer Alexandre Dumas. Born to a French nobleman and his slave, Dumas was the first black French general and led the life of military heroism and swashbuckling grandeur portrayed in his son’s novels.
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney (Disney/Jump at the Sun, Oct.). The stories of 10 men from slavery to the modern era whose lives influenced America.
Lullaby (For a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes, illus. by Sean Qualls (Harcourt Children’s Books, Mar. 2013). Hughes’s beloved poem in a picture book for the first time.
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (HarperCollins Children’s Books, Jan. 2013). Recounts Mandela’s struggle to transform his country into a place for all South Africans.
I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr., illus. by Kadir Nelson (Random House/Schwartz & Wade, Oct.). An illustrated version of King’s famous speech includes an audio CD.
The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, illus. by Eric Velasquez (Walker Books for Young Readers, Jan. 2013). An Ohio town attempts to protect a runaway slave.