theGrio’s Top 50 books to read this summer: ‘Spreading Our Wings’

Check out the top books to read this summer that expand your horizons beyond national borders

Summer is a perfect time to expand your horizons beyond national borders if only virtually at the start, and after a year of semi-isolation, we’re all ready to take flight.

Red Island House by Andrea Lee (Literary fiction)

Red Island House is a great choice for fans of literary fiction and travel writing alike. Elegant and evocative, Lee’s writing is the perfect fit for this fascinating episodic novel about the vastly unequal multicultural communities of Madagascar, the island nation off the east coast of Africa.

The central character, Shay Senna, is an African American intellectual and expatriate married to an older, wealthy Italian husband. A Black woman thrust into the awkward role of part-time plantation mistress due to her marriage to a man who likes playing king of the manor, she goes back and forth between her life in Italy and lengthy sojourns, which offer fascinating glimpses into Malagasy society.

Lee knows this territory well, and I was captivated by the family drama as well as the gorgeous writing, unique story, and insights about class, race, culture and more.

The Eternal Audience of One by Rémy Ngamije (Literary fiction, August 10)

Remy Ngamije’s debut novel is a striking and relatable coming-of-age story about a restless young man for whom family and the whole idea of home is a sore point.

It’s funny and poignant in fairly equal measure, and despite the very specific cultural context being central— the story takes place primarily in Namibia and South Africa—the intergenerational conflicts and warring emotions at its center will resonate. 

Also recommended: Popisho by Leone Ross and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World in Readings from the Diaspora; Island Queen by Vanessa Riley in Historical Fiction.


More theGrio Top 50 Book picks: Family Ties | American Art and Ideas | LGBTQ+ Pride | Black Love and Black Glamour | Spreading Our Wings | Crime and Consciousness | Historical Reckoning | Nonfiction | Thrills and Chills: Mystery/Suspense/ThrillerLove and Romance | Historical Fiction | Fiction from the Diaspora | Contemporary Fiction

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