If you’re not-so-patiently waiting for Taylor Jenkins Reid’s newest release, “Carrie Soto Is Back,” to hit shelves on Aug. 30, here are a few authors to check out to fill the void. The work from the three Black female writers in this list contains many of the same features that Jenkins Reid is known for: historical fiction reads detailing the joys and traumas passed on from generation to generation. Some are a little heavier, some are a little more magical, but they all make for captivating reads with a diverse perspective. 

Candice Carty-Williams

Those who keep up with literary happenings may already recognize the name Candice Carty-Williams. She’s the British author behind 2019’s “Queenie,” the 2020 British Book Awards Book of the Year Award winner. With the win, Carty-Williams became the first Black writer ever to be given the award, thrusting her among a star-studded literary list including Sally Rooney for her novel “Normal People,” Douglas Stuart and his searing “Shuggie Bain,” Jung Chang and her international bestseller “Wild Swans,” and Dan Brown’s thriller mystery “The Da Vinci Code.”

It’s easy to see why “Queenie” deserved the honor. Dubbed “Bridget Jones’s Diary” meets “Americanah,” “Queenie” follows 25-year-old Jamaican Brit Queenie Jenkins as she struggles to navigate life as a young Black woman living in a gentrified South London. Queenie doesn’t fit squarely in any space she navigates; to make matters worse, she and her long-term boyfriend, Tom, have just called it quits. From dates with men who have a Black girl fetish, to office flings, girls nights out and people asking to touch her hair, “Queenie” is a bitingly honest yet hilarious look at a young person trying to find their place in the world and looking for comfort and validation in all the wrong places. “One of many excellent things about this novel is how it lets Queenie face that truth without downplaying her own troubles,” Anthony Cummins wrote for The Guardian.

Like many of Jenkins Reid’s works — “Malibu Rising,” “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” “Evidence of the Affair” — “Queenie” is a rumination on the emotional undertows of humans and their relationships and the way components of those connections manifest into a person’s characteristics; whether harmful or uplifting. Bonus: if you read “Queenie” and end up wanting more from Carty-Williams, she has a new novel titled “People Person,” debuting in the U.S. this September. 

Illustration by Jenny Kwon

Helen Oyeyemi

Another Black novelist hailing from the U.K., Helen Oyeyemi, like Jenkins Reid, is a prolific writer with an extensive catalog of book releases to choose from. Some of her most popular include 2021’s “Peaces,” where an unusual train ride leaves a couple changed forever; the spellbinding collection of stories “What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours”; 2019’s imaginative novel “Gingerbread”; and “Boy, Snow, Bird,” which draws inspiration from “Snow White.”

Oyeyemi’s works mainly focus on themes of family ties and turmoil in relationships, similar to Jenkins Reid. In contrast, Oyeyemi leans into magical realism, and mixes contemporary and classic myths and tales from various cultures in unexpected and intoxicating ways.


Take the aforementioned “Boy, Snow, Bird,” for example. The novel, at its core, is based on the fairy tale “Snow White.” But Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel “Passing” was a source of inspiration as well, resulting in a dynamic, moving read that comments on race relations while feeling somewhat whimsical. “She uses the ‘skin as white as snow’ ideal as the departure point for a cautionary tale on post-race ideology, racial limbos and the politics of passing,” explains a 2014 New York Times review of the book. “It feels less Disney or German folklore and more Donald Barthelme’s 1967 novella ‘Snow White,’ in which the political and the social poke through the bones of a pretty children’s tale, alarming us with its critical cultural import.”

No matter what tales Oyeyemi is weaving together, however, her language is succinct, her storytelling visceral and her writing transportive. Like Jenkins Reid, Oyeyemi builds worlds that keep you guessing and engaged, slowly revealing small parts of the entire picture — but never showing it all at once — compelling readers to come to their own understanding. 

Yaa Gyasi

The first time I was introduced to Yaa Gyasi was with her 2020 release “Transcendent Kingdom.” There were so many moments when I had to stop and simply take in Gyasi’s beautiful and emotive piece of writing. “Transcendent Kingdom” bounces back and forth between the present and past as Gyasi crafts an image of Gifty and her Ghanaian family. Its disjointed storytelling flows effortlessly, explaining how Gifty’s family of four has dwindled, slowly becoming three and then two. And how, through the opposite lenses of science and religion, Gifty struggles to make sense of it all — while also trying to understand herself and excel in her career.

Afterward, I immediately picked up Gyasi’s debut, “Homegoing.” Equally as powerful, the 2017 winner of both the PEN/Hemingway Award and American Book Award is a breathtaking multigenerational saga in which NPR says, “Gyasi has given rare and heroic voice to the missing and suppressed.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid is known for her transportive historical fiction novels, and Gyasi’s work, which falls in the same category, is a sweeping representation of the genre. While much heavier than Jenkins Reid’s works, Gyasi’s dive into the intricacies of familial relations and the longstanding reverberations of trauma is not to be missed.