February is Black History Month in the USA and Canada. Created by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, Black History Month aims to highlight overlooked aspects of Black history. In line with this, we have picked five novels by Black authors that still shape discussions of race today.\n\n1. Beloved\n[caption id="attachment_59670" align="alignright" width="191"] Beloved (Morrison\/Vintage)[\/caption]\nNobel Prize winner Toni Morrison's most famous novel, Beloved, focuses on the terrible choices many Black Americans had to make to gain freedom from slavery.\nBased on true events, the novel\u2019s main character is Sethe, a former slave. When slave catchers appear at her new home, Sethe decides she would rather her children died than return them to slavery. She only succeeds in killing her eldest daughter and it is her ghost that Sethe believes still haunts them.\nPublished in 1987, Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This classic is a perfect introduction to the works of Morrison \u2013 who died in 2019 \u2013 as well as many of the themes behind issues of racism today.\n\n2. Their Eyes Were Watching God\n[caption id="attachment_59675" align="alignleft" width="191"] Their Eyes Were Watching God(Neale Hurston\/Virago Press)[\/caption]\nFirst published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God is Zora Neale Hurston's best-known novel.\nIt tells the story of Janie and her quest for love through her three marriages. Although she finds this to some degree with her third husband, her life is always defined by the men who control it.\nSome Black writers criticized Hurston at the time for using her talent to discuss gender relations rather than race. They saw Hurston\u2019s discussion of love and gender roles as a superficial topic.\nThe growth of Black feminism in the 1970s, however, led to the book\u2019s rediscovery. It is now seen as an important work of Black feminist literature.\n\n3. Devil in a Blue Dress\nWalter Mosley\u2019s Devil in a Blue Dress is a detective novel set in the late 1940s in Los Angeles. It follows Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins as he falls into detective work after losing his job. His first case is to find a missing woman, but it raises questions of race and sex as Easy is drawn into Los Angeles\u2019 post-war underbelly.\nThe book, published in 1990, is notable for focusing on a Black protagonist in a genre of fiction previously dominated by white writers and characters.\n\n4. Half of a Yellow Sun\n[caption id="attachment_59689" align="alignright" width="196"] Half of a Yellow Sun(Ngozi Adichie\/Fourth Estate)[\/caption]\nChimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun focuses on the Biafran or Nigerian Civil War, a conflict often overlooked or forgotten in the West.\nAdichie uses the lives of three characters to explore the attempt by the eastern states of Nigeria to gain independence in 1967. The brutal conflict was a result of tensions between ethnic groups who had been combined into one colony by the British in 1914.\nOften compared to works by acclaimed Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, Adichie\u2019s novel is a vital exploration of post-colonial Nigeria.\n\n5. The Nickel Boys\nThe Nickel Boys is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel based on real accounts of abuse carried out at a reform school, The Florida School for Boys, in the 1960s.\nIn it, Colson Whitehead uses his two main characters, Elwood and Jack, to show how easy it is for Black Americans to be sucked into the criminal justice system. It also explores the brutal consequences of policies that stretch back decades.\nThe Nickel Boys is not Whitehead's first Pulitzer Prize, though. He also won one for his 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad.\n\nCelebrating Black History Month\nThere are many more Black writers to discover, including the likes of Alice Walker, Esi Edugyan, and James Baldwin. And that\u2019s just fiction! We also have recommendations for poetry and non-fiction if you\u2019re interested to learn more.\nWho are you favorite Black authors? Comment below to let us know.\nAnd if you are writing anything during Black History Month, our proofreaders are on hand to help you make sure your writing is error free.