#BYPBookclub: Slay by Brittney Morris
This month, we're delighted to be offering something a little different. As it's Black History Month, we're going to be sharing more than one book for this month, we're going to showcasing a fantastic book by a black author every week.
With the recent great news of Jacaranda Books' A Quick Ting On series, a groundbreaking new black British series exploring a range of topics from young authors including Tskenya Sarah-Frazer, Tobi Kyeremateng, Sophia Tassew, Chanté Joseph and Christian Adofo, created by Magdalene Abraha, a 24-year-old publisher, we're excited to show the variety and diversity of black authors that the world has to offer. From literary fiction and commercial fiction to non-fiction and children's books, we're hoping that each week, you feel inspired, intrigued and most of all, represented.
Kicking off this week, we're talking all about Slay.
Want to know what Slay is all about?
Think of it as Black Panther meets Ready Player One. In this exciting debut from Brittney Morris, a fierce teen game developer battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for black gamers.
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide in the secret online role-playing card game, SLAY.
No one knows Kiera is the game developer - not even her boyfriend, Malcolm. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media labels it an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs. With threats coming from both inside and outside the game, Kiera must fight to save the safe space she's created. But can she protect SLAY without losing herself?
In July 2018, the CLPE carried out research to find that only 4% of children's books published in 2017 featured BAME characters, a mere 1% of those featured a BAME main character. For us to find a book that presented a young black girl as not only the main character of a book, but as a college student, gamer, game developer and queen, we wanted to find out more. Slay is a story that we think all young girls should read. Whilst the story is fiction, there are many moments that we relate to, recognise and feel deeply. From the way Kiera's creation is tarnished by the media when a young African-American teen is murdered following a dispute over the currency used in the game, to being confronted by a discrimination lawsuit after her game is deemed 'anti-white', these issues might seem virtual, but they're very real. Slay doesn't just highlight the life of an inspiring and talented teenager, it tells a story of what it's like to be a young black girl, navigating worlds (both virtual and literal) in which you don't see yourself always represented. What we love is that Kiera is not a tragic character, this book doesn't focus on her trauma, pain or suffering. This story shows what it's like to be unapologetically black, but it's also a story of strength, passion, and determination to strive for what you believe in. Kiera really does slay!
About the author: Brittney Morris is the author of SLAY. She holds a BA in economics from Boston University because back then, she wanted to be a financial analyst. (She's now thankful that didn't happen). She spends her spare time reading, playing indie video games, and enjoying the rain from her house in Philadelphia. She lives with her husband Steven who would rather enjoy the rain from a campsite in the woods because he hasn't played enough horror games. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @BrittneyMMorris, and online at authorbrittneymorris.com.
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Writer: Mireille Harper