Juneteenth small press roundup
June 19, 2024 5:35 AM   Subscribe

For Juneteenth, a small press roundup (over 50 more below the fold), starting with Library Journal’s Juneteenth 2024 | A Reading List which includes these small press books:

Kalamazoo Public Library’s Teen Reads Celebrating Juneteenth includes small press titles X: a novel (Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon, Candlewick Press, a fictionalized account of Malcolm X’s childhood and teen years, 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book: Amazon; Bookshop) and Freedom By Force: The History of Slave Rebellions (Therese Harasymiw, Greenhaven Publishing LLC*: Amazon). * Greenhaven is a bit of a stretch as a small press – they’re owned by Rosen Publishing Group who are huge, but independent of the Big Five.

Milwaukee Community Journal’s 13 Books that will remind you of your power this Juneteenth includes these small press books: Temple University Center for Anti-Racism’s 5 books reflecting Juneteenth principles includes small press title Being Human Being: Transforming the Race Discourse (Molefi Kete Asante and Nah Dove, Universal Write Publications LLC: Amazon; Bookshop).

Universal Write Publications’ most recent titles also include: and I have also noticed:

Antiblackness and Global Health: A Response to Ebola in the Colonial Wake by Lioba Hirsch (Pluto Press, June 2024): Examines how colonial mentalities and infrastructures shaped the response to the West African Ebola epidemic. (Bookshop)

Black Pastoral by Ariana Benson (University of Georgia Press, 2023): Poems that explore Black people’s experiences with the natural world. Cave Canem Poetry Prize winner; finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize. (Amazon; Bookshop)

Bluff: Poems by Danez Smith (Graywolf, 20 Aug 2024): Written after two years of artistic silence, during which the world came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Minneapolis became the epicenter of protest following the murder of George Floyd, Bluff is Danez Smith’s powerful reckoning with their role and responsibility as a poet and with their hometown of the Twin Cities. This is a book of awakening out of violence, guilt, shame, and critical pessimism to wonder and imagine how we can strive toward a new existence in a world that seems to be dissolving into desolate futures. (Amazon; Bookshop)

Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, ill. Alex Bostic (Union Square Kids, 2022): This lyrical celebration of Juneteenth, deeply rooted in Black American history, spans centuries and reverberates loudly and proudly today. (Amazon; Bookshop)

The Global History of Black Girlhood eds. Corinne T. Field and LaKisha Michelle Simmons (University of Illinois Press, 2022): How and why we should seek out the Black girls of the past. (Amazon; Bookshop)

Japa and Other Stories by Iheoma Nwachukwu (University of Georgia Press, 1 Sept 2024): These eight brutally beautiful stories are struck full of fragmented dreams, with highly developed thieves, misadventurers, and displaced characters all heaving through a human struggle to anchor themselves in a new home or sometimes a new reality. This book is about young Nigerian immigrants who bilocate, trek through the desert, become temporary Mormons, sneak through Russia, and yearn for new life in strange new territories that force them to confront what it means to search for a connection far from home. Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. (Amazon; Bookshop)

The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers by Arlisha Norwood (Rockridge Press, 2022): Chapter book. (Amazon)

The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy (Amazon; Bookshop) and The Twirl of Being a Little Black Girl (Amazon; Bookshop), both illustrated hardcover picture books by Valerie Reynolds, ill. Chris Turner (Chicago Review Press, 13 Aug 2024).

Juneteenth Rodeo by Sarah Bird (U Texas Press, 4 June 2024): Timeless photos offer a rare portrait of the jubilant, vibrant, vital, nearly hidden, and now all-but-vanished world of small-town Black rodeos. (Amazon; Bookshop)

Rooted: The American Legacy of Land Theft and the Modern Movement for Black Land Ownership by Brea Baker (One World, 18 June 2024): Why is less than 1% of rural land in the U.S. owned by Black people? An acclaimed writer and activist explores the impact of land theft and violent displacement on racial wealth gaps, arguing that justice stems from the literal roots of the earth. (Amazon; Bookshop)

A Seat at the Table: The Life and Times of Shirley Chisholm by Drs. Glenn L. Starks & F. Erik Brooks (Chicago Review Press, Mar 2024): Biography of the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate and how her run shaped the future. (Amazon; Bookshop)

Trailblazers: Black Women Who Helped Make America Great, American Firsts/Icons by Gabrielle David (2leaf press) is a six-volume series that examines the lives and careers of over 400 brilliant women from the eighteenth century to the present who blazed uncharted paths in every conceivable way. Volumes 1 (Amazon; Bookshop); 2 (Amazon; Bookshop); 3 (Amazon; Bookshop); 4 (Amazon; Bookshop); 5 (released June 2024); and 6 (released Sept 2024).

We Are the Culture: Black Chicago's Influence on Everything by Arionne Nettles (Chicago Review Press/Lawrence Hill Books, Apr 2024): Pop culture expert Arionne Nettles takes us through the history of how Black Chicagoans have led pop culture in America for decades, and gives insight into the ways culture spreads and influences our lives. (Amazon; Bookshop)

We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat (Graywolf, 3 Sept 2024): Tracing a loose arc from Edwidge Danticat’s childhood to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent events in Haiti, the essays gathered in We’re Alone include personal narrative, reportage, and tributes to mentors and heroes such as Toni Morrison, Paule Marshall, Gabriel García Márquez, and James Baldwin that explore several abiding themes: environmental catastrophe, the traumas of colonialism, motherhood, and the complexities of resilience. (Amazon; Bookshop)

When I Passed the Statue of Liberty I Became Black by Harry Edward (Yale UP, 20 Feb 2024): The lost memoir of Britain’s first Black Olympic medal winner—and the America he discovered. (Amazon; Bookshop)

The Wishing Pool and Other Stories by Tananarive Due (Akashic Books, 2023): In her first new book in seven years, Tananarive Due further cements her status as a leading innovator in Black horror and Afrofuturism. (Amazon; Bookshop)


Bonus content of non-American African diaspora books!

Brittle Paper’s 23 African Beach Reads for a Relaxing Summer Vacation includes small press titles:
  • A Kind of Madness (Uche Okonkwo, Tin House Books, 2024, 10 short stories concerned with literal madness but also those private feelings that, when left unspoken, can feel like a type of madness: Amazon; Bookshop)
  • Like Water Like Sea (Olumide Popoola, Cassava Republic, 2024, follows Nia, a queer, bi/pansexual naturopath in London, as her life unfolds across three pivotal moments, spanning from her 28th year to a life-altering realisation at the age of 50: Amazon)
  • Womb City (Tlotlo Tsamaase, Erewhon Books*, 2024, Afrofuturism set in a dark and deadly future Botswana: Amazon; Bookshop)
* Like Greenhaven above, Erewhon is a bit of a stretch as a small press – they’re owned by Kensington Publishing Corp who are also huge, but independent of the Big Five.

Akashic Books offers the original noir anthologies Accra Noir (Ghana) (Amazon; Bookshop), Addis Ababa Noir (Ethiopia) (Amazon; Bookshop), Nairobi Noir (Kenya) (includes Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o; Amazon; Bookshop).

The CBC’s 40 books by Black Canadian authors to read includes small press titles: and the poetry collections: And the UK’s Black Writers Guild’s book release page includes small press titles Monster (Dzifa Benson, Bloodaxe Books, 24 Oct 2024: Amazon; Bookshop) and Person Unlimited: An Ode to My Black, Queer Body (Dean Atta, Canongate Books, 4 July 2024: Amazon).

Previous roundups: 1 (pride), 2 (no theme), 3 (challenging work), and 4 (no theme).
posted by joannemerriam (13 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
flagged as fantastic
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:31 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Stellar post. thanks...again!
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:45 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Amazing! This must be so much work to compile and format. Thanks a lot!
posted by bigendian at 6:49 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Oh, brilliant! Thank you!
posted by humbug at 7:06 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Looking forward to digging into these links throughout the day.

Josh Johnson explains Juneteenth to White People is a great 20 minute set I watched earlier this morning, was thinking about making it a SLYT post but I think it fits better in the comments here.

I love Juneteenth, I hope it evolves into a huge holiday over time now that it’s nationally recognized. It is so cool to see all this art made about and inspired by it.
posted by Mizu at 8:45 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Whoa, that's a lot of material to dig through! *cracks knuckles*

It's been great to see how fast Juneteenth has been rising in popular consciousness across the US. It wasn't that long ago that, for non-black folks, if you weren't from Texas, odds were good you wouldn't have had a clue about the holiday.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:38 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Drewbagel1847, here is a comment I made about Juneteenth in 2018. That thread is interesting to read; it was nationally recognized in 2021 so to read through the smattering of different opinions there is a cool time capsule of it rising to prominence but not being official.

Joannemerriam, thank you in particular for the link to Juneteenth Rodeo. I’m gonna buy it for one of my Houston relatives who had childhood cowboy aspirations and loves photography.
posted by Mizu at 10:54 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Now that's a post! Nicely done.
posted by grubi at 11:48 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Added a couple books to my library holds, thanks for this.

Brea Baker is doing an event for her book this weekend at our local worker owned bookstore, and I am still trying to decide if I want to go enough to venture out in the heatwave.
posted by the primroses were over at 11:55 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Came here to share the Josh Johnson bit, but Mizu beat me to it. The guy's embodying the truest spirit of the stand-up comedian - educating, challenging, encouraging reflection, and you have some chuckles along the way. Time to get reading, great looking post.
posted by LegallyBread at 12:01 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

thank you, as always, joannemerriam, for all these books! neat seeing danez smith's work. searching for more, i was happy to find Guernica
posted by HearHere at 5:44 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Mod note: This hugely informative post has been added to the sidebar and Best Of blog!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:17 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]

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