Black Writers To Read All Year

Monday, February 17, 2020

Black Writers To Read All Year
by Megan Loreto 

Many people never escape the monotony of half-read high school required reading, the New York Times “bestseller” list, and the most recent books Hollywood has chosen to make into films. In addition, American readers are still indoctrinated by a homogenous straight, white, male literary canon in schools and universities. Perhaps for some, choosing not to escape that monotony is a matter of willful ignorance or an apathy towards the world, but for others it comes down to a matter of not knowing where to begin. Black writers have, since the Harlem Renaissance, created and fostered an identity outside of the prescribed values of the overwhelmingly white literary canon. They offer diverging perspectives, styles and aesthetics that undermine the hierarchical power structures implanted in readers by white writers. I am capitalizing on the opportunity Black History Month provides, to suggest this list as an access point to Black writers. This is by no means a comprehensive or authoritative list but it includes some exemplary prose, poetry, and non-fiction that I have been moved by. For those who have had little exposure to Black writers: here is a starting place to help you find your way. For those who have read, re-read and re-read again the works of Black authors—I hope you find something new to love in the list below: 
  1. Colson Whitehead The Nickle Boys 2019 
  2. Michael Eric Dyson Tears We Cannot Stop 2017
  3. Roxane Gay Hunger 2017 
  4. Ayobami Adebayo Stay 2017 
  5. Danez Smith Don’t Call Us Dead 2017 
  6. Yaa Gyasi Homegoing 2016 
  7. Jesmyn Ward The Fire This Time 2016 
  8. Trevor Noah Born a Crime 2016 
  9. Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me 2015 
  10. Claudia Rankine Citizen: An American Lyric 2014  
  11. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be Feminists 2014 and The Thing Around Your Neck 2009 
  12. Zadie Smith White Teeth 2000
  13. Langston Hughes The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes 1994
  14. Toni Morrison Beloved 1987
  15. Alice Walker The Color Purple 1982
  16. Angela Davis  Women, Race, and Class 1981
  17. Ntozake Shange For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf 1975 
  18. Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 1969
  19. Malcolm X The Last Speeches 1968
  20. James Baldwin The Fire Next Time 1953 and Go Tell It On the Mountain 1962 
  21. Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God 1937
  22. Solomon Northup Twelve Years a Slave 1853 

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