10 Dystopian Novels by BIPOC to Blow Your Mind

This is the first post in our monthly series, “Decolonize Your Bookshelf!” Every month features a different genre, providing a curated recommended-reading list of fiction by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links—that means we make a small commission when you purchase through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and all affiliate income from this blog post will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative.

Society is crumbling.

Systemic oppression is unbearable, and civilization as we know it seems to be coming to its end. We’ve gone through disaster after disaster—how much more can we take?

While I could easily be talking about 2020 (it’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?) I’m actually talking about one of my favorite genres of fiction: dystopian literature.

Dystopian literature is considered a sub-genre of speculative fiction, featuring a world in which things have gone (and are going) terribly wrong.

Sometimes the dystopia arises from a literal disaster, while in other works small incremental changes have accrued over time to create a problematic status quo. Either way, protagonists in these stories often question the systems of control (or chaos) at work in their world. 

Dystopian stories allow us to grapple with some of the harsh truths of society and the human condition that can be difficult to address otherwise.

This is part of why so many dystopian novels are taught in schools: 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange, and more.

And yet, the gap here is obvious: where are the dystopian stories by authors of color?

The fact is, traditional Western literary canon tends to prioritize straight white male narratives over others.

Even when curriculum includes works by women, like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Giver, the dystopias taught in school tend to be overwhelmingly white, and some truly excellent novels by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are largely overlooked.

As a community of writers and readers, we have the power to change that.

After all, questioning the status quo is what dystopia is all about!

In no particular order, here are 10 must-read dystopian novels by BIPOC that explore post-apocalyptic worlds, oppressive regimes, and strong characters fighting for good. 

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