7 Books about Hauntings by Black Women Writers

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Soraya Palmer, author of The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts, recommends Black ghost stories in Electric Literature. The list includes novels and short stories by Soraya Palmer (Trinidadian/Jamaican-American), Tracy Baptiste (Trinidadian), Nalo Hopkinson (Jamaican-Canadian), and Maisy Card (Jamaican-American).

A neighbor once told me that a woman died in my house. From then I was constantly looking in my house for signs—every creak was a footstep, every sound was a whisper, a loud scream. My mother says that the way Americans see death as a horror only tells half the story. The other half of death is called memory, fantasy, ancestor. 

My novel, The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts, is filled with—you guessed it—ghosts. Some come from the Caribbean folklore I grew up with: the Rolling Calf, Mama Dglo, and Ol’ Higue. But my book also features other ghosts: the physical presence of colonization haunting the island of Trinidad and Jamaica, and the haunting that comes from grief and regret. But more than that, there’s the family of Black women that I see as my novel’s heartbeat that tell stories of their characters’ histories, their deepest secrets, their wildest dreams. 

Throughout time, Black women have told ghost stories as a way to record the histories we were often left out of. Stories of trickster spirits have been used to explore the small ways we take back our power from our oppressors through trickery. Like the story of Anansi tricking Tiger and Lion into becoming the god of storytelling. Like the story of replacing the master’s sugar with cyanide. In literature, we have used ghost stories to tell the things we are sometimes too scared to hear about: like what happens when we become possessed by the traumas of our ancestors, or the terror in becoming a mother during slavery, or the complicated grief that comes from losing the person who raised you. With that said, here is a list of seven contemporary Black women authors who have continued this long tradition of Black ghost storytelling. [. . .]

Continue reading at https://electricliterature.com/7-books-about-hauntings-by-black-women-writers for reviews of White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, The Jumbies by Tracy Baptiste, What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, “Old Habits” by Nalo Hopkinson, “Second Chances” by Lesley Nneka Arimah (from What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories ), These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card, and Beloved by Toni Morrison.

[Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash.]

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