Books·Reading List

3 books to read if you enjoyed Ta-Nehisi Coates' We Were Eight Years in Power

If you enjoyed reading We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates, we have three great Canadian book suggestions for you.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning author and national correspondent at The Atlantic. (Random House/Wikimedia Commons)

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning American author and national correspondent at The Atlantic. His book We Were Eight Years in Power reflects on what it means to be Black in America — with a specific focus on the election that led to the U.S.'s first Black president, and on the campaign of his successor, who he describes as America's "first white president."

And if you're a fan of We Were Eight Years in Power, we think you should check out these three Canadian books that reflect on the modern-day Black experience in Canada. 

Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard

Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives, is a Montreal-based author and activist. (Stacy Lee Photography, Fernwood Publishing)

What it's about: Delving behind Canada's veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Montreal-based author and activist Robyn Maynard's Policing Black Lives traces the underreported modern and historical realities of anti-Blackness within a Canadian context. Maynard examines the fact slavery occurred in Canada for more than 200 years and that enslaved Indigenous and Black individuals were responsible for developing infrastructure for white Canadian settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries — and how that legacy has defined institutionalized racism today. 

Blank by M. NourbeSe Philip

M. NourbeSe Philip is a Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, essayist and short story writer. (BookThug/The Canadian Encyclopedia)

What it's about: Blank is a collection of writer and author NourbeSe Philip's previously out-of-print essays and new works. The book explores questions of race, cultural appropriation, America under the Trump administration and how we define multiculturalism in Canada.

Black Like Who? by Rinaldo Walcott

Rinaldo Walcott is an academic and writer based in Toronto. (Rinaldo Walcott/Insomniac Press)

What it's about: Toronto-based professor and interdisciplinary scholar Rinaldo Walcott's groundbreaking study of Black culture in Canada, Black Like Who? was originally published in the 1990s and again in a revised edition, with a new introduction by the author, in 2003. With its incisive readings of hip-hop, film, literature, social unrest, sports, music and the electronic media, Walcott's book not only assesses the role of Black Canadians in defining Canada, it also argues strenuously against any notion of an essentialist Canadian Blackness.