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The literary review spotlighting the books you need to read

Bad Form are supporting Black, Asian, Arabic, and non-white writers to address the huge representation gap in the British publishing industry

By Ally Faughnan

Did you know that in 2016, less than 100 books were published by BAME authors? I didn’t until I read this on Bad Form’s website and this needs to be fixed. In order to address the huge representation gap in the British publishing industry, Bad Form was created to platform Black, Asian, Arabic, and non-white writers through their quarterly magazine – which is written, designed, and illustrated by Black, Asian, Arabic, and non-white contributors – and social media.

In light of recent events following the death of George Floyd, Bad Form have also released their anti-racism reading list, which outlines some fiction and non-fiction books for those who want to start educating themselves on being anti-racist.

Here are 6 books which I’ve taken from Bad Form’s list and from their Instagram to continue my own education. And if you need to start doing some anti-racist work yourself, then here’s somewhere to start too.

If you are going to purchase any of these books, Bad Form has encouraged you to buy from and support your local Black-owned independent stores – here are some based in London.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge


Started as a blog post in 2014, Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustrations with the conversations on race and racism that were being had by people not affected by it. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race extends that discussion to explore the institutional racism and white dominance in our society. Reni has also encouraged that if you want to read this book, to borrow a copy from a friend or your local library, or if you do buy the book, to match the cost with a donation.

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman


Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman follows the story of two people. One is a Cross – the dark-skinned ruling class who live with power and privilege – the other is a Nought – a member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. Through this role reversal, this love story explores the powers of structural racism and discrimination in our society. Once I’ve read the book, I’m definitely going to be giving the BBC adaptation a watch too.

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad


In 2018, Layla F. Saad started the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge on Instagram to encourage people to acknowledge and examine the ways in which they uphold white supremacy. This developed into an online guidebook and now into a physical book which explores white privilege and white supremacy, so that people can learn how to stop inflicting conscious and unconscious damage on BIPOC.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo Fiction

Girl, Woman, Other tells the stories of 12 different characters and their friends, families, and relationships. Exploring the lives of Black women in modern Britain, it covers tales from different generations and social classes. Bernadine Evaristo also has loads of other great books – mixing fiction, non-fiction, prose, and poetry – to add to your reading list.

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri


Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri is a look into the traditions, politics, philosophy, and history of black hairstyling culture. It dives into it it’s relation to mathematical systems, social codes, and even cosmology, showing the importance of understanding the oppressive hair journey Black people have been on.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Autobiographical fiction

This coming-of-age story tells the life of writer and poet Maya Angelou, growing up in the south of America from the 1930s. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiographical fiction that explores both discrimination and celebration, traumas and achievements. This is also the first book in a seven volume series of autobiographies by Maya to keep your reading list going.

Bad Form’s latest issue Crime is out tomorrow, with an amazing cover by Rachel Rodrigues – check it out here.

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