11 Books by Caribbean Authors to Read This Month


June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the United States, which is a time to commemorate the impact that those of Caribbean descent have had on the country. This community’s influence can be felt in every field, including literature, and if you’re looking to diversify your reading list this summer, we’ve got a selection of 11 titles by Caribbean authors that you can pick up today.

1. Simone Breaks All the Rules // Debbie Rigaud; $16

Simone Thibodeaux’s story is one that many Haitian-American girls will be able to relate to. With the help of her friends, she creates a bucket list for her senior year that’s sure to break all of her overprotective parents’ rules. Then things start getting out of hand. Will she end up going to prom with the perfect Haitian boy her parents have chosen for her or the boy she’s been crushing on that they’d never approve of?

Buy it: Amazon

2. How to Escape from a Leper Colony // Tiphanie Yanique; $15

How to Escape from a Leper Colony is a collection of eight short stories centering on characters within the U.S. Virgin Islands. The stories address themes of race, family, gender, and sexuality, all while balancing reality with a touch of surreal magic. Author Tiphanie Yanique’s experimental writing style brings these scenarios to life in ways that will leave you questioning your own worldview.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Her Body and Other Parties // Carmen Maria Machado; $14

Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, uses magical realism to assist with difficult conversations about gender. Whether she’s reimagining Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episodes with a fantastical twist, or telling stories of macabre prom dresses, you’ll be on the edge of your seat in anticipation. Her Body and Other Parties earned Machado a Shirley Jackson Award and it was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

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4. Never Look Back // Lilliam Rivera; $17

This retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice sets the Greek myth in the Bronx, offering a modern-day take that is accessible to a much wider audience. The story follows the young romance of Eury, who has just moved to the Bronx from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and the bachata-singing Pheus. As anyone familiar with the original myth would have guessed, this star-crossed couple must soon decide whether fighting for their love is worth the challenges they face.

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5. Afterlife // Julia Alvarez; $14

Right after author Antonia Vega retires, she finds that she must now cope with the sudden loss of her beloved husband, Sam. Then, one evening, following her sister’s disappearance, Antonia is met with an undocumented, pregnant teenager on her doorstep. Afterlife was chosen as one of TIME‘s must-read books of 2020, and it marked author Julia Alvarez’s first work of adult fiction in 14 years.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Instructions for Dancing // Nicola Yoon; $17

Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star, Instructions for Dancing begins with Evie Thomas realizing that she no longer believes in love, due to the strange visions of future heartbreak she gets whenever she sees a couple kiss. Then she meets X, an Afro-Brazilian boy, at the La Brea Dance Studio. As they practice for the ballroom dance competition together, Evie finds herself wondering if love may be worth the risk of heartbreak after all.

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7. Sure, I’ll be your Black Friend // Ben Philippe; $13

Though you may have heard of Ben Philippe’s YA fiction novels like The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, his latest collection of nonfiction essays is made with adults in mind. Philippe tells stories from his perspective as a Haitian Canadian now living in the United States and teaching at his alma mater, Columbia University. His signature satire will have you laughing before taking a pause to process the impact of race and ethnicity in your own life.

Buy it: Amazon

8. History is All you Left Me // Adam Silvera; $10

In Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me, a young man named Griffin clings to the belief that his first love, Theo, would come back to him, even after Theo moved to California for college and began dating a boy named Jackson. But after Theo dies in a drowning accident, Griffin must face a new reality, and the only person who could possibly understand his grief is the boy Theo left him for.

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9. Honorary White // E. R. Braithwaite; $17

Guyana-born author E.R. Braithwaite’s first impactful work was his autobiographical To Sir, With Love from 1959. He’d later go on to serve as Guyana’s representative to the United Nations and ambassador to Venezuela during the late 1960s. Then, in 1975, his landmark book Honorary White was released, detailing the atrocities he witnessed during his six weeks as an “Honorary White” in South Africa during apartheid a few years earlier.

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10. What’s Mine and Yours // Naima Coster; $17

This historical-fiction novel from Dominican-American author Naima Coster addresses integration and its effects on two families during the 20 years that follow. In the story, students Gee, a sensitive Black boy, and Noella, who is half-Latina and half-white, join a play that’s meant to bring the school’s diverse students together. With the influence of their mothers, the lives of these two students will be irrefutably tangled for years to come.

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11. Providential // Colin Channer; $16

In Providential, author Colin Channer uses the character of the Jamaican policeman to chart the changes happening in the country following decolonization. As the son of a Jamaican cop himself, Channer’s personal experiences and insight provide a unique perspective into the conflict between the police force and the people.

Buy it: Amazon

Related: 11 Unmissable Books From the Past Five Years

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