Wit, clever plots and unique sense of humor are the signature traits that make Zadie Smith and her work stand out. The author was born in London and was raised by her Jamaican mother and British father. Her roots are often noticeable in her work, where she discusses the issues of racism and the realities of living in north-west London. Her debut novel, ‘White Teeth’ (which she wrote only at the age of 25!) quickly became an international sensation, making Smith a globally recognized author. She’s also received numerous prestigious awards for her work. She has since published novels, essays, short stories and plays, some of the most famous ones include ‘Feel Free: Essays’, ‘The Autograph Man’ and ‘On Beauty’. Apart from being an incredible author, Zadie is also outspoken about social issues, politics and human rights. Since 2010, she has been a Creative Writing professor at New York University.
One of the most impressive and famous names in the literary (and not only) world. Maya Angelou became an idol to many and even after her death in 2014, she still remains one of the most recognized icons. Among her abundant novel collection are seven autobiographies, including her most famous one ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’, which was her debut, published in 1969. The memoir is not only incredible from the literary point, but also made history by being the first non-fiction best-seller by an African American woman. In her lifetime, Angelou was also honored with numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to her by US President Barack Obama in 2011. Maya stood out not only with her writing, but also by becoming a spokeswoman for other Black people and Black female writers who have been marginalized. Angelou wrote unapologetically about race and social injustice, giving others the space and opportunity to follow up her achievements and be heard. She also sparked a feminist writers movement to open up about the issues they were facing. Her legacy is still recognized and her political and social fight is as relevant today as it was during Angelou’s life.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Revolutionary and inspiring – those words perfectly describe this incredible author as well as her work. Chimamanda was born and raised in Nigeria where, before moving to United States, she was actually studying medicine. Lucky for us, later in life she’s decided to pursue a career as a writer. After her move, Adichie became more aware of the racial issues and injustices that were happening in the country. For the first time in her life, she understood what it’s like to be a person of color in the US. Race and social injustice became important topics for her, which is also visible in her work, for example in her most famous novel ‘Americanah’, which became an international sensation. Adichie has impressive education record, having graduated from John Hopkins University as well as Yale University, where she obtained a MA degree in African Studies. Apart from writing on topics of race, Nigerian culture and social issues, Adichie is also an outspoken feminist. In 2014 she wrote an essay called ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, which was adapted from her TED Talk in 2012 (which was viewed over 6 million times!). Chimamanda became not only a globally recognized and appreciated author, but a feminist icon who’s fighting for justice, gender-parity and equality for all.
One of the most influential and inspiring writers of all time. Although, Toni Morrison was much more than ‘just’ an author – she was also a respected book editor, college professor and activist. Her work beams with courage and boldness that is truly admirable. Morrison started her career in 1960’s, when she became the first Black female editor at Random Publishing House. Her legacy includes the most famous and moving titles, among them what became her most recognized and celebrated novel, ‘Beloved’, which was also made into screen adaptation. Her writing focused mostly on social issues, race and feminism. She’s received more awards than one could count, including Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and, possibly the biggest honor, Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Morrison’s accomplishments were widely recognized and the writer was even inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2020. Toni was also actively involved in politics and has always been vocal about social issues and race relations in the United States (and beyond). She passed away in 2019 at the age of 88, however, her heritage is still very much alive.
Layla F. Saad
The most recent author on our list – social media figure turned into best-selling author. The British-born became widely recognized through her literary work, however, before she became a writer, she began her career by being an Instagram activist. She was boldly addressing the issues of racism and patriarchy, fighting inequalities and raising awareness on her social media channels. Her life really took a turn after she created a hashtag #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, which earlier this year developed into an actual book. And not any book! ‘Me and White Supremacy’ has been praised all over the world and received even more attention in May 2020 during the Black Lives Matter protests. Saad is also a speaker and teacher, focusing on identity, leadership and personal transformation. Layla also hosts a ‘Good Ancestor’ podcast. She has definitely become the most anticipated POC author!