Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Seven top ghost stories by Black women writers

Soraya Palmer is a Flatbush-born-and-raised writer and licensed social worker who advocates for survivors of gender-based violence who are facing criminal charges related to their abuse. She has been interviewed for her work against police brutality, gentrification, and violence in The New York Times and BuzzFeed News. She has been awarded a residency at Blue Mountain Center. She lives in New York. The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts is her debut novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged "seven contemporary Black women authors who have continued [the] long tradition of Black ghost storytelling," including:
White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Unlike other haunted houses, this one speaks. The house warns its readers as well as its guests what may happen if we step out of line. A mannequin pushes a poisonous apple into the mouth of a Nigerian housekeeper. An elevator traps the child of an undocumented housekeeper and gardener all night long. In the background of these hauntings, there are other horrors happening: The fourth Kosovan refugee has just been stabbed, another detainee at the Immigration Removal Center hangs themself.

The house, like the family that lives there, develops a paranoia of everything outside their four walls, showing us that what lies beneath liberal white politeness may only be the sinister fear of the unknown—the same fear that erupted into Brexit eleven years after this book was published. The white and wealthy owners of this house decide to convert their home into a bed and breakfast, only to find that it is not kind to outsiders—specifically the Black immigrants that pass through its walls. Author Helen Oyeyemi, who was born in Nigeria, but raised in London, creates a ghost story that holds us hostage in its terrifying splendor.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue