Popular African American Literature Books

23+ [Hand Picked] Popular Books On African American Literature


3.8/5

Everybody's Son by Thrity Umrigar

The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The World We Found deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral questions in this probing, ambitious, emotionally wrenching novel of two families—one black, one white. During a terrible heat wave in 1991—the worst in a decade—ten-year-old Anton The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The World We Found deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral questions in this probing, ambitious, emotionally wrenching novel of two families—one black, one white. During a terrible heat wave in 1991—the worst in a decade—ten-year-old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan. With no electricity, the refrigerator and lights do not work. Hot, hungry, and desperate, Anton shatters a window and climbs out. Cutting his leg on the broken glass, he is covered in blood when the police find him. Juanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious and half-naked. When she comes to, she repeatedly asks for her baby boy. She never meant to leave Anton—she went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high. Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jail. The Harvard-educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege. Desperate to have a child in the house again after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton, with him and his wife, Delores—actions that will have devastating consequences in the years to come. Following in his adopted family’s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment. But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most.
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4.7/5

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

A bold, provocative debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty's The Sellout , about a father who will do anything to protect his son--even if it means turning him white. How far would you go to protect your child? Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larg A bold, provocative debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty's The Sellout , about a father who will do anything to protect his son--even if it means turning him white. How far would you go to protect your child? Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larger by the day. In this near-future society plagued by resurgent racism, segregation, and expanding private prisons, our narrator knows Nigel might not survive. Having watched the world take away his own father, he is determined to stop history from repeating itself. There is one potential solution: a new experimental medical procedure that promises to save lives by turning people white. But in order to afford Nigel's whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few Black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly surreal hoops--from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups--in an urgent quest to protect his son. This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. Writing in the tradition of Ralph Ellison and Franz Kafka, Maurice Carlos Ruffin fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.
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5/5

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult. Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls h Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult. Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish ... Booker, the man Bride loves and loses, whose core of anger was born in the wake of the childhood murder of his beloved brother ... Rain, the mysterious white child, who finds in Bride the only person she can talk to about the abuse she's suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother ... and Sweetness, Bride's mother, who takes a lifetime to understand that "what you do to children matters. And they might never forget."
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3.9/5

Let Me Love You by Alexandria House

Trying to put past hurts behind you is hard when your ex is a fool, but buoyed by child support and alimony, Jo Walker is moving forward with her life, pursuing a career, raising her little girl, and trying to live in peace. She believes she has all the bases covered in her world. But what about her heart? Rap legend Everett “Big South” McClain is divorced, too, knows all Trying to put past hurts behind you is hard when your ex is a fool, but buoyed by child support and alimony, Jo Walker is moving forward with her life, pursuing a career, raising her little girl, and trying to live in peace. She believes she has all the bases covered in her world. But what about her heart? Rap legend Everett “Big South” McClain is divorced, too, knows all about failed relationships, and has relegated his love life to casual connections rather than pursuing something real. That is, until he lays eyes on Jo. She’s exactly what he never knew he needed. He’s what’s been missing from her world. Will she accept what he has to offer and let him love her? ***This novel contains profanity and sexual content. If you do not like those elements in your romantic reads, this is not the book for you***
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4.5/5

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim (Editor, Introduction) , Jesmyn Ward (Contributor) , Lynn Nottage (Contributor) , Jacqueline Woodson (Contributor) ,

An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't co An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, "well-read black girl" Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone--no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities--can find themselves there. Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves. Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.
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4.5/5

Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due

Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories—one of which has never been published before—Ghost Summer: Stories is sure to both haunt and delight. With an Introduction by Nalo Hopkinson and an Afterword by Steven Barnes.
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4.1/5

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jenifer Lewis

The "Mega Diva" and legendary star of Black-ish looks back on her memorable journey to fame and the unforgettable life lessons she learned along the way. Jenifer Lewis keeps it real in this provocative and touching memoir by a mid-western girl with a dream whose journey from poverty to Hollywood will move, shock, and inspire readers. Told in the audacious voice her fans ador The "Mega Diva" and legendary star of Black-ish looks back on her memorable journey to fame and the unforgettable life lessons she learned along the way. Jenifer Lewis keeps it real in this provocative and touching memoir by a mid-western girl with a dream whose journey from poverty to Hollywood will move, shock, and inspire readers. Told in the audacious voice her fans adore, Jenifer describes a road to fame made treacherous by dysfunction and undiagnosed mental illness, including a sex addiction. Yet, supported by loving friends and strengthened by "inner soldiers," Jenifer never stopped entertaining and creating. We watch as Jenifer develops icon status stemming from a series of legendary screen roles as the sassy, yet loveable, mama or auntie. And we watch as her emotional disturbances, culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations movie, launch her on a continuing search for answers, love, and healing. Written with no-holds-barred honesty and illustrated with sixteen-pages of color photos, this gripping memoir is filled with insights gained through a unique life that offers a universal message: "Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes." From her first taste of applause at five years old to landing on Broadway within eleven days of graduation and ultimately achieving success in movies, television and global concert halls, Jenifer reveals her outrageous life story with lots of humor, a few regrets and most importantly, unbridled joy. Candid, warm and wonderfully inspiring, The Mother of Black Hollywood intimately reveals the heart of a woman who lives life to the fullest.
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4.9/5

I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin , Raoul Peck (Editor)

To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin n To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote. In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck s film uses them to jump through time, juxtaposing Baldwin s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America.
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4.7/5

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

From a magnetic new voice, a debut story collection set in Jamaica and America for readers of Zadie Smith, Helen Oyeyemi, and Imbolo Mbue. “There is a way to be cruel that seems Jamaican to me.” Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret—Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants an From a magnetic new voice, a debut story collection set in Jamaica and America for readers of Zadie Smith, Helen Oyeyemi, and Imbolo Mbue. “There is a way to be cruel that seems Jamaican to me.” Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret—Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life. In “Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In “Mash Up Love,” a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother—the prodigal son of the family—stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In “Bad Behavior,” a mother and father leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In “Mermaid River,” a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In “The Ghost of Jia Yi,” a recently murdered international student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in “Shirley from a Small Place,” a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital. The winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for “Bad Behavior,” Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction’s most dynamic and essential young authors.
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4.1/5

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War Two. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society and when she falls for no-name Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves. In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War Two. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society and when she falls for no-name Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves. In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with his abandoning the family, he returns, ready to resume their old life. Jackie must decide if the promise of her husband is worth the near certainty he’ll leave again. Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He finds something hypnotic about training the seedlings, testing the levels, trimming the leaves, drying the buds. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn’t survive the storm, and in its wake he was changed too. Now, fresh out of a four-month stint for possession with the intent to distribute, he decides to start over—until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal. For Evelyn, Jim Crow is an ongoing reality, and in its wake new threats spring up to haunt her descendants. A Kind of Freedom is an urgent novel that explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through a poignant and redemptive family history.
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5/5

Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith

Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States Even the men in black armor, the ones Jangling handcuffs and keys, what elseAre they so buffered against, if not love’s blade Sizing up the heart’s familiar meat?We watch and grieve. We sl Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States Even the men in black armor, the ones Jangling handcuffs and keys, what elseAre they so buffered against, if not love’s blade Sizing up the heart’s familiar meat?We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat. Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean.Love: naked almost in the everlasting street, Skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze.—from “Unrest in Baton Rouge”In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to our nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith’s signature voice—inquisitive, lyrical, and wry—turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. Here, private utterance becomes part of a larger choral arrangement as the collection widens to include erasures of The Declaration of Independence and the correspondence between slave owners, a found poem comprised of evidence of corporate pollution and accounts of near-death experiences, a sequence of letters written by African Americans enlisted in the Civil War, and the survivors’ reports of recent immigrants and refugees. Wade in the Water is a potent and luminous book by one of America’s essential poets.
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4.4/5

Into the Go-Slow by Bridgett M. Davis

It's 1986 and twenty-one-year-old Angie continues to mourn the death of her brilliant and radical sister Ella. On impulse, she travels from Detroit to the place where Ella tragically died four years before—Nigeria. She retraces her sister's steps, all the while navigating the chaotic landscape of a major African country on the brink of democracy careening toward a coup d'é It's 1986 and twenty-one-year-old Angie continues to mourn the death of her brilliant and radical sister Ella. On impulse, she travels from Detroit to the place where Ella tragically died four years before—Nigeria. She retraces her sister's steps, all the while navigating the chaotic landscape of a major African country on the brink of democracy careening toward a coup d'état. At the center of this quest is a love affair that upends everything Angie thought she knew about herself. Against a backdrop of Nigeria's infamous go-slow—traffic as wild and surprising as a Fela lyric—Angie begins to unravel the mysteries of the past, and opens herself up to love and life after Ella.
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4.7/5

New People by Danzy Senna

From the bestselling author of Caucasia, a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class and manners in contemporary America. As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." T From the bestselling author of Caucasia, a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class and manners in contemporary America. As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows. As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria's perfect new life but her very persona. Heartbreaking and darkly comic, New People is a bold and unfettered page-turner that challenges our every assumption about how we define one another, and ourselves.
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4.8/5

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles. They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that’s mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley must balance the overwhelming challenges of her farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart. Penguin has a rich tradition of publishing strong Southern debut fiction—from Sue Monk Kidd to Kathryn Stockett to Beth Hoffman. In Queen Sugar, we now have a debut from the African American point of view. Stirring in its storytelling of one woman against the odds and intimate in its exploration of the complexities of contemporary southern life, Queen Sugar is an unforgettable tale of endurance and hope.
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4.4/5

What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson

A stunning follow up to New York Times bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop, a timely exploration of America's tortured racial politics In 2015 BLM activist Julius Jones confronted Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with an urgent query: “What in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of this country?” “I don’t believe you just change hearts,” she protes A stunning follow up to New York Times bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop, a timely exploration of America's tortured racial politics In 2015 BLM activist Julius Jones confronted Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with an urgent query: “What in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of this country?” “I don’t believe you just change hearts,” she protested. “I believe you change laws.” The fraught conflict between conscience and politics – between morality and power – in addressing race hardly began with Clinton. An electrifying and traumatic encounter in the sixties crystallized these furious disputes. In 1963 Attorney General Robert Kennedy sought out James Baldwin to explain the rage that threatened to engulf black America. Baldwin brought along some friends, including playwright Lorraine Hansberry, psychologist Kenneth Clark, and a valiant activist, Jerome Smith. It was Smith’s relentless, unfiltered fury that set Kennedy on his heels, reducing him to sullen silence. Kennedy walked away from the nearly three-hour meeting angry – that the black folk assembled didn’t understand politics, and that they weren’t as easy to talk to as Martin Luther King. But especially that they were more interested in witness than policy. But Kennedy’s anger quickly gave way to empathy, especially for Smith. “I guess if I were in his shoes…I might feel differently about this country.” Kennedy set about changing policy – the meeting having transformed his thinking in fundamental ways. There was more: every big argument about race that persists to this day got a hearing in that room. Smith declaring that he’d never fight for his country given its racist tendencies, and Kennedy being appalled at such lack of patriotism, tracks the disdain for black dissent in our own time. His belief that black folk were ungrateful for the Kennedys’ efforts to make things better shows up in our day as the charge that black folk wallow in the politics of ingratitude and victimhood. The contributions of black queer folk to racial progress still cause a stir. BLM has been accused of harboring a covert queer agenda. The immigrant experience, like that of Kennedy – versus the racial experience of Baldwin – is a cudgel to excoriate black folk for lacking hustle and ingenuity. The questioning of whether folk who are interracially partnered can authentically communicate black interests persists. And we grapple still with the responsibility of black intellectuals and artists to bring about social change. This book exists at the tense intersection of the conflict between politics and prophecy – of whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape. The future of race and democracy hang in the balance.
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4.2/5

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -- no mean feat for a black woman in the '30s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.
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3.8/5

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple is a classic. With over a million copies sold in the UK alone, it is hailed as one of the all-time 'greats' of literature, inspiring generations of readers. Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken The Color Purple is a classic. With over a million copies sold in the UK alone, it is hailed as one of the all-time 'greats' of literature, inspiring generations of readers. Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker - a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.
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4.8/5

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.
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3.8/5

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be. As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying "battle royal" where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison's nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.
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4.3/5

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the a The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change- in painful, devastating ways. What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons's most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.
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4.8/5

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Yea Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
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4.7/5

Native Son by Richard Wright

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on t Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.
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3.9/5

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
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