black authors

Summer Fiction: Celebrating Black Authors and Readers

This summer Oakland Public Library will be partnering with the Oakland Roots Sports Club, The Town's newest professional sports franchise. OPL’s bike library will be visiting five home soccer games this season (June 19, July 17, August 14, Sept. 18, Oct. 16) giving out books and sharing the library love.

Our first date with the Roots will be this Saturday, June 19—Juneteenth! In that spirit, and in celebration of Juneteenth, here is a list of many of this summer’s fiction books by Black authors arriving from June, July and August. If you are a fiction lover, prepare yourself—it's a long list and you are going to want to read lots of these books! 

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle 
After lying about his perfect retirement life to his daughter in Australia, a Jamaican immigrant scrambles to make his actual life resemble the one he claimed to have when his daughter announces her intent to visit.  (July) 

All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running by Elias Rodriques 
Having forged a new identity as a gay man in New York, Daniel Henriquez returns to thefloodlands where he went to high school, to mourn Aubrey, the self-identified "redneck" girl he loved back then. His track team buddies-Twig, a long-distance runner; Desmond, a sprinter; Des's girlfriend, Egypt; and Jess, Aubrey's best friend-help him reckon with who they are to him, and he to them. Recklessly, he confronts the good-ole-boy responsible for Aubrey's death, and comes out to his old friends as his own man, embracing the people and places he loves. (June) 

The Appraisal by Brielle Montgomery 
Paid to bait unsuspecting partners to determine their loyalty, Jayla Morgan, taking seductress” to a whole new level, finds her twisted lies and scandalous exploits standing in the way of true love with the man of her dreams.  (June)  

Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry  
Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. Its a gift for communicating with animals. To some, shes a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, shes a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Elizas ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge. Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And shes met her match in Eliza, whos only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers. (June) 

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen 
Tabitha Walker is a black woman with a plan to have it all. At 33 years old, the checklist for the life of her dreams is well underway. Education? Check. Good job? Check. Down payment for a nice house? Check. Dating marriage material? Check, check, and check. With a coveted position as a local news reporter, a "paper-perfect" boyfriend, and even a standing Saturday morning appointment with a reliable hairstylist, everything seems to be falling into place. Then Tabby receives an unexpected diagnosis that brings her picture-perfect life crashing down, jeopardizing the keystone she took for granted: having children. With her dreams at risk of falling through the cracks of her checklist, suddenly she is faced with an impossible choice between her career, her dream home, and a family of her own. (August) 

Black Sci-Fi Short Stories: An Anthology of New and Classic Tales with a foreword by Alex Award-winning novelist Temi Oh, an introduction by Dr. Sandra M. Grayson 
Dystopia, apocalypse, gene-splicing, cloning and colonization are explored here by new authors and combined with proto-sci-fi and speculative writing of an older tradition (by W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin R. Delany, Sutton E. Griggs, Pauline Hopkins and Edward Johnson) whose first-hand experience of slavery and denial created their living dystopia. (June) 

The Checklist by Addie Woolridge 
While using her superstar corporate-consulting skills to curb the worst impulses of an impossibly eccentric tech CEO, Dylan Delacroizx must deal with a wilting relationship with her boyfriend and a blossoming attraction to her parents’ neighbors’ gorgeous son. (June) 

The Confession of Copeland Cane by Keenan Norris 
With a highly rated insurgency Alert Desk that surveils and harasses his neighborhood in the name if anti-terrorism, Copeland Cane V, entrapped in a reality that chews up his past and obscures his future, finds himself caught in the flood of history after a protest rally against police violence. (June) 

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon 
When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle. And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former pro athlete wants back into the game, and he wants Taylor to train him. There's just one catch -- no one can know what they're doing. But when they're accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor's plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps? (August) 

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia 
After a raid on a Manhattan speakeasy in 1926 Harlem, Louise Lloyd is given the opportunity to avoid jail by helping to solve the murders of several local black girls, in the first novel of a new mystery series. (June) 

Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell 
After being abducted by Boss Man and held captive in a dilapidated house in Queens, three rescued girls rage against a local newspaper columnist who missed their tale of horror as it unfolded right across the street. (July) 

Everyman by M. Shelly Conner 
Eve Mann arrives in Ideal, Georgia, in 1972 looking for answers about the mother who died giving her life. A mother named Mercy. A mother who for all of Eve’s twenty-two years has been a mystery and a quest. Eve’s search for her mother, and the father she never knew, is a mission to discover her identity, her name, her people, and her home. (July) 

The Eternal Audience of One by Rémy Ngamije 
One might as well start with Séraphin: playlist-maker, nerd-jock hybrid, self-appointed merchant of cool, Rwandan, stifled and living in Windhoek, Namibia. Soon he will leave the confines of his family life for the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, in South Africa, where loyal friends, hormone-saturated parties, adventurous conquests, and race controversies await. More than that, his long-awaited final year in law school promises to deliver a crucial puzzle piece of the Great Plan immigrant: a degree from a prestigious university. But a year is more than the sum of its parts, and en route to the future, the present must be lived through and even the past must be survived. (August) 

Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor 
Interconnected stories set among Midwestern artists and creative types center around a young man trysting with two dancers in an open relationship in a new work of fiction by the author of Booker Prize finalist Real Life. (June) 

The Freedom Race by Lucinda Roy 
The Freedom Race, Lucinda Roy's explosive first foray into speculative fiction, is a poignant blend of subjugation, resistance, and hope. In the aftermath of a cataclysmic civil war known as the Sequel, ideological divisions among the states have hardened. In the Homestead Territories, an alliance of plantation-inspired holdings, Black labor is imported from the Cradle, and Biracial "Muleseeds" are bred. Raised in captivity on Planting 437, kitchen-seed Jellybean "Ji-ji" Lottermule knows there is only one way to escape. She must enter the annual Freedom Race as a runner. Ji-ji and her friends must exhume a survival story rooted in the collective memory of a kidnapped people and conjure the voices of the dead to light their way home. (July)  

The Fugitivities by Jesse McCarthy 
After a chance encounter with an ex-NBA player with his own regrets, recent college graduate Jonah Winters, unsure of what’s next, heads to Brazil where he slowly forms an understanding of self, community and freedom that is rarely afforded to young black men. (June) 

Give My Love to the Savages: Stories by Chris Stuck 
Nine stories highlight the complexities of being Black in modern America including a Black son who visits his White father during the 1992 L.A. riots and a Black Republican whose skin disease is turning him white.  (July) 

Have We Met? by Camille Baker 
What if you already met the soul mate you were destined to be with? And you didnt even know it? After losing her best friend to cancer, Corinne’s life is in flux. She has moved back to Chicago, is considering her next career move (or temp job), and has absolutely no time to look for love&;until a mysterious dating app called Met suddenly appears on her phone, and with it, an invitation for Corinne to reconnect with four missed connections from her past. One of them, Met says, is her soul mate. Corinne doesn’t believe the app for a second, but when she very quickly finds herself with back-to-back blasts from the past, she’ll have to consider if maybe she’s wrong about it. The thing is, Corinne’s also been introduced to a really great guy outside the app’s influence. As their feelings for each other grow, Corinne has to wonder: With her apparent true love still out there, should she tap yes to the next match? With help from a new group of friends, her loving if annoying family, and maybe a touch of fate, can Corinne come to terms with the loss she’s still reeling from, take control of her career, and find love along the way? (July) 

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott 
In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black  author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour. (June) 

Her Pleasure by Niobia Bryant 
On vacation with her new music mogul boyfriend, Jaime Pine runs into an irresistible ex- escort and discovers she’s pregnant after they share a night together, in the latest addition to the steamy series following Mistress for Hire. (June) 

In the Country of Others by Leila Slimani ; translated by Sam Taylor 
After marrying a handsome Moroccan soldier during World War II, a young Frenchwoman is torn as tensions mount between the locals and the French colonists in the new novel by the internationally best-selling author of The Perfect Nanny. (August)  

Island Queen by Vanessa Riley  
A former slave rises above the harsh realities of being owned and colonialism on Montserrat working hard to buy freedom for herself her mother and her sister and becoming an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier and planter. (July) 

Keisha and the Johnsons by Maria D. 
Keisha Wright has just turned thirty and left her drama-filled twenties behind her. She’s met the man of her dreams in sexy, salt-and-pepper businessman, 46-year-old Russell Johnson. He’s asked her to marry him, and they’ve recently purchased a house in Alexandria, Virginia. Like Keisha, Russell is a former player, but he has honestly decided to settle down. Unfortunately, they have one obstacle in front of them: their families. (June) 

Keys to the Kingdom by Ty Marshall 
For decades, five Italian families have dominated organized crime in New York, controlling the docks, the unions, law enforcement, and the influx of drugs into the city. But with the longest tenured don on his deathbed and the other families on the brink of civil war, greed threatens to destroy the Commission. Enter Marion, leader of the wealthy and prestigious Holloway family, a shrewd and persuasive businessman with strong political connects and stronger street ties. The FBI says he’s the most powerful black gangster in the country. With his oldest son, Mason, campaigning for mayor of New York City and his illegitimate son, Yasin “Sin” Kennedy, overseeing his lucrative drug operation, Marion is poised to seize control of the city. Then, the war between the Mafia families hits close to home, and the unrelenting power struggle between his sons jeopardizes everything their father has built. (June) 

The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers 
Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead. To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself. (July) 

A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams 
A talented dress designer leaves New York to care for her father in Charleston, South Carolina, and accepts a job at a local wedding gown shop only to find herself falling for the store's owner. (June) 

The Lurking Place by Clarence Major 
An engaging new novel by African-American literary icon Clarence Major reveals personal and political parallels between the past and present. What happens when the drive to succeed professionally collides with ambitions of the heart? In The Lurking Place, James Eric Lowell, a young Black poet, strives to advance his career and extend his whirlwind romance with his white lover, Sophia. Set in New York City and Mexico during 1968--a time of political upheaval and social change--this cinematic page-turner captivates the reader with its richly drawn settings and unforgettable characters. Will James finish his manuscript and have his book published? Will Sophia stay with James or allow her family to reign in her passions? (June) 
 

The Minister Primarily by John Oliver Killens 
A major literary event--the eagerly anticipated publication of a long-lost novel from legendary writer and three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee John Oliver Killens, hailed as the founding father of the Black Arts Movement and mentor to celebrated writers, including Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Arthur Flowers, and Terry McMillan. Wanderlust has taken Jimmy Jay Leander Johnson on numerous adventures, from Mississippi to Washington D.C., Vietnam, London and eventually to Africa, to the fictitious Independent People's Democratic Republic of Guanaya, where the young musician hopes to "find himself." But this small sliver of a country in West Africa, recently freed from British colonial rule, is thrown into turmoil with the discovery of cobanium-a radioactive mineral 500 times more powerful than uranium, making it irresistible for greedy speculators, grifters, and charlatans. Overnight, outsiders descend upon the sleepy capital city looking for "a piece of the action." When a plot to assassinate Guanaya's leaderis discovered, Jimmy Jay-a dead ringer for the Prime Minister-is enlisted in a counter scheme to foil the would-be coup. He will travel to America with half of Guanaya's cabinet ministers to meet with President Ronald Reagan and address the UN General Assembly, while the rest of the cabinet will remain in Guanaya with the real Prime Minister. What could go wrong? Everything. (July) 

Moon and the Mars by Kia Corthron 
Set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City in the years 1857-1863, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of Theo from childhood to adolescence, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum's sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America's attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting-painfully, transformationally-as the nation divides and marches to war. Corthron's first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, won the coveted First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction in 2016. (August) 

The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You: Stories by Maurice Carlos Ruffin 
A collection of raucous stories that offer a panoramic view of New Orleans from the author of the “stunning and audacious” (NPR) debut novel We Cast a Shadow. Maurice Carlos Ruffin has an uncanny ability to reveal the hidden corners of a place we thought we knew. These perspectival, character-driven stories center on the margins and are deeply rooted in New Orleanian culture. (August) 

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris 
Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she's thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They've only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella's desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It's hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there's a lot more at stake than just her career. A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girlwill keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist. (June) 

The Perfect Ruin by Shanora Williams  
A brutal tragedy ended Ivy Hill's happy family and childhood. Now in her twenties and severely troubled, she barely has a life--or much to live for. Until the day she discovers the name of the woman who destroyed her world: Lola Maxwell--the mega-wealthy socialite with a heart, Miami's beloved "first lady" of charity. Accomplished, gorgeous, and oh-so-caring, Lola has the best of everything--and doesn't deserve any of it. So it's only right that Ivy take it all away... (August) 

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray 
The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan's personal librarian-who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white-her complexion is dark because she is African American. The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go-for the protection of her family and her legacy-to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.  (June) 

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez 
At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and his depressed home city in the Black Country. But once he arrives he finds himself at a loss for a new center of gravity, and turns to sex work, music and art to create his own notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality. (June) 

Ramadan Ramsey by Louis Edwards 
The Guggenheim Fellowship and Whiting Award-winning author Louis Edwards makes his long-awaited comeback with this epic tale of a New Orleans boy whose very creation is so filled with tension that it bedevils his destiny before he is even born. Spanning from the Deep South to the Middle East, Ramadan Ramsey bridges multiple countries and cultures, entwining two families who struggle to love and survive in the face of war, natural disasters, and their equally tumultuous, private mistakes and yearnings. (August) 

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby 
A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance. Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah's white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss. Derek's father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy. Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys. Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change - and maybe even redemption. (July) 

Seven Days In June by Tia Williams 
Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone's surprise, shows up in New York. When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York's Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can't deny their chemistry-or the fact that they've been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since. Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva's not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . . With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual. (June) 

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson  
Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve. As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else. When they finally make it overseas, to England and then France, Grace and Eliza will at last be able to do their parts for the country they love, whatever the risk to themselves. (August) 

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie 
When a 12-year-old girl tracks her down during one of her brief visits to Philadelphia, claiming to be “her egg,” Skye, a loner and egg donor, decides that it might be time to actually have a meaningful relationship with another human being, which is easier said than done. (June) 

Skye Papers by Jamika Ajalon 
Skye Papers is a debut novel by Jamika Ajalon that follows three Black queer artists, musicians, and poets-Skye, Scottie, and Pieces-as they meet in New York and travel to London, navigating the 1990s underground art scene as it becomes increasingly threatened by the rise of CCTV and state surveillance. (June) 

The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia 
The lives of two Nigerian women divided by class and social inequality intersect when they're kidnapped, held captive and forced to await their fate together. In the Nigerian city of Enugu, young Nwabulu, a housemaid since the age of ten, dreams of becoming a typist as she endures her employers’ endless chores. She is tall and beautiful and in love with a rich man’s son. Educated and privileged, Julie is a modern woman. Living on her own, she is happy to collect the gold jewellery lovestruck Eugene brings her, but has no intention of becoming his second wife. When a kidnapping forces Nwabulu and Julie into a dank room years later, the two women relate the stories of their lives as they await their fate. Pulsing with vitality and intense human drama, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut is set against four decades of vibrant Nigeria, celebrating the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what remains a man’s world. (June) 

The Stone Face by William Gardner Smith 
As a teenager, Simeon Brown lost an eye in a racist attack, and this young African American journalist has lived in his native Philadelphia in a state of agonizing tension ever since. After a violent encounter with white sailors, Simeon makes up his mind to move to Paris, known as a safe haven for black artists and intellectuals, and before long he is under the spell of the City of Light, where he can do as he likes and go where he pleases without fear. Through Babe, another black American émigré, he makes new friends, and soon he has fallen in love with a Polish actress who is a concentration camp survivor. At the same time, however, Simeon begins to suspect that Paris is hardly the racial wonderland he imagined: The French government is struggling to suppress the revolution in Algeria, and Algerians are regularly stopped and searched, beaten, and arrested by the French police, while much worse is to come, it will turn out, in response to the protest march of October 1961. Through his friendship with Hossein, an Algerian radical, Simeon realizes that he can no longer remain a passive spectator to French injustice. He must decide where his true loyalties lie. (July) 

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris 
In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry--freed by the Emancipation Proclamation--seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys. Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox. (June) 

Sweet Tea by Piper Huguley 
Althea Dailey has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams: she’s about to make partner at her prestigious law firm in New York. So why doesn’t she feel more excited about it? When she has to travel South for a case, she pays a long-overdue visit back home to Milford, Georgia. To her surprise, a white man she’s never met has befriended her grandmother. (July)  

The Terrible Fours by Ishmael Reed 
The Terrible Fours follows The Terrible Twos (1982) and The Terrible Threes (1989). It is part science fiction, part Washington Novel (Think Drew Pearson's novel, The Senator, films Seven Days In May and The Manchurian Candidate) and part Christmas Novel. Some characters have been dropped and some of the principals are back. St. Nicholas is here, but his sidekick Black Peter is missing. Dean Clift, the president who was removed from office, still resides in a Maryland sanatorium. Televangelist Clement Jones still runs the White House. "The Rapture" that Jones and the figurehead president Jesse Hatch promised hasn't arrived. (June) 

This Life by Quntos KunQuest 
This is the debut novel by Quntos KunQuest, a longtime inmate at Angola, the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary. This marks the appearance of a bold, distinctive new voice, one deeply inflected by hiphop, that delves into the meaning of a life spent behind bars, the human bonds formed therein, and the poetry that even those in the most dire places can create. Lil Chris is just nineteen when he arrives at Angola as an AU-an admitting unit, a fresh fish, a new vict. He's got a life sentence with no chance of parole, but he's also got a clear mind and sharp awareness-one that picks up quickly on the details of the system, his fellow inmates, and what he can do to claim a place at the top. When he meets Rise, a mature inmate who's already spent years in the system, they begin to channel their questions, frustrations, and pain into rap, and flows with the same cadence that powers their charged verses. It pulses with the heat of impassioned inmates, the oppressive daily routines of the prison yard, and therap contests that bring the men of the prison together. This Life is told in a voice that only a man who's lived it could have-a clipped, urgent, evocative voice that surges with anger, honesty, playfulness, and a deep sense of ugly history. (June) 

Walking on Cowrie Shells by Nana Nkweti 
In her powerful, genre-bending debut story collection, Nana Nkweti’s virtuosity is on full display as she mixes deft realism with clever inversions of genre..Pulling from mystery, horror, realism, myth, and graphic novels, Nkweti showcases the complexity and vibrance of characters whose lives span Cameroonian and American cultures. A dazzling, inventive debut, Walking on Cowrie Shells announces the arrival of a superlative new voice. (June)  

Warn Me When It's Time by Cheryl A. Head 
A hate group operating in Oakland County, Michigan has claimed responsibility for a six-month-long string of arson fires and robberies at mosques, temples, and black churches around Detroit, eluding police and federal agencies. The most recent fire, at a mosque in Dearborn, kills a respected imam. His children—suspicious of law enforcement’s treatment of Muslims and afraid of reprisal—hires Charlie Mack and her team of investigators to find their father’s murderers. The Mack team begins to hunt down the clues in this local hate crime, but they aren’t prepared when they realize that those clues are pointing to a widespread conspiracy that runs through elected state officials and up to the highest levels of national leadership. FBI agent, James Saleh, returns to help the Mack Agency infiltrate and take down a homegrown militia hell-bent on starting a race war in America. (June) 

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen 
A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind. (August) 

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory 
Featuring Ben Stephens, Theo’s brother from The Wedding Party, this charming and hilarious new romance finds Ben and a famous actress struggling to keep their working relationship strictly professional. (July) 

Book descriptions provided by the publishers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 Award-Winning Works of Fiction by Black Authors

If your favorite isn’t included in this list, please include it in the comments! Descriptions in italics provided by the publishers.

Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2013 National Book Critics Circle Award, 2014 Women’s Prize Finalist
Separated by differing ambitions after falling in love in occupied Nigeria, beautiful Ifemelu experiences triumph and defeat in America, while Obinze endures an undocumented status in London until the pair is reunited in their homeland fifteen years later.

Babel-17
by Samuel Delany
1967 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Rydra Wong, a poet and code expert, must break an enemy government's code, but discovers that the code is really a supersophisticated language.

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
by Danielle Evans
2011 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
Fearless, funny, and ultimately tender, Evans's stories offer a bold new perspective on the experience of being young and African-American or mixed-race in modern-day America.

Beloved
by Toni Morrison
1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1988 American Book Award
Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993
Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistently haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl.

Black Moses
by Alain Mabanckou
2018 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
Three orphans in 1970s Africa escape their orphanage to the busy port town of Pointe-Noire where they form a gang of petty thieves and become part of the underworld.

A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James        
2015 Booker Prize, 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, 2015 American Book Award
A novel framed as a fictional oral history that explores the events and characters surrounding the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during the political turmoil on Jamaica in the late 1970s

Brown Girl in the Ring 
by Nalo Hopkinson 
1999 Locus Award for Best First Novel, 1999 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
When the rich and privileged leave the city behind, barricaded behind roadblocks, the people of the inner city must adopt the old ways of farming, barter, and herb lore, but when the monied need a harvest of bodies, one girl bargains with the gods and gives birth to new legends.

Click Song
by John A. Williams
1983 American Book Award
At lunch in a restaurant on the East Side, Cato Douglas, a Black novelist, learns that Paul Cummings, a white Jewish novelist and a friend for thirty years, has just committed suicide.

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
1983 National Book Award, 1983 Pulitzer Prize
This is the story of two sisters-one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South-who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence.

Counternarratives
by John Keene
2016 American Book Award
Summoning slavery and witchcraft, a beguiling collection of novellas and stories, spanning the 17th century to the present and crossing multiple continents, draws upon memoirs, detective stories, interrogation transcripts and more to create new and strange perspectives on our past and present.

Crossing the River
by Caryl Phillips          
1993 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, 1993 Booker Finalist
Follows the lives of three African siblings, beginning with their imprisonment on an English slave ship in 1753 and continuing through the struggles of their descendants.

Damnificados
by JJ Amaworo Wilson
2017 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction
Damnificados is loosely based on the real-life occupation of a half-completed skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, the Tower of David. In this fictional version, 600 "damnificados"-vagabonds and misfits-take over an abandoned urban tower and set up a community complete with schools, stores, beauty salons, bakeries, and a rag-tag defensive militia. 

Devil in a Blue Dress
by Walter Mosley
1991 Shamus Award for Best First P. I. Novel
Easy Rawlins, a tough World War II veteran and detective is hired by a financier and gangster to locate Daphne Monet, a search that leads him from elegant board meetings to the raucous jazz joints of late forties Los Angeles.

Elbow Room 
by James Alan McPherson 
1978 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Twelve stories explore the borders between black and white America as they are crossed and known by students and Peace Corps volunteers of the 1960s, failed preachers, young punks, jealous lovers, and others.

The Famished Road   
by Ben Okri
1991 Booker Prize Winner
As his parents struggle to put food on the table, Azaro, a little boy living in the ghetto of an African city during British colonial rule, battles the evil spirits who are tempting him.

The Fifth Season
by N. K. Jemisin
2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel
Followed by sequels The Obelisk Gate (Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2017) and The Stone Sky (Hugo Award for Best Novel 2018), Jemisin is the only author to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years.
After the empire Sanze collapses and the vast continent Stillness becomes ravaged by a red rift which darkens the sky, Essun, whose daughter has been kidnapped by her murderous husband, crosses Stillness in a desperate attempt to save her daughter.

The Good Lord Bird
by James McBride     
2013 National Book Award
Fleeing his violent master at the side of abolitionist John Brown at the height of the slavery debate in mid-nineteenth-century Kansas Territory, Henry pretends to be a girl to hide his identity throughout the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.

Half-Blood Blues
by Esi Edugyan           
2011 Giller Prize, Booker Finalist, 2012 Women’s Prize Finalist, 2013 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
Sid, the only one to witness his bandmate's disappearance at the hands of the Gestapo, breaks his silence on the incident over fifty years later when the men are reunited at a documentary premiere.

The Heart of Redness
by Zakes Mda
2001 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, 2001 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
In The Heart of Redness Zakes Mda sets a story of South African village life against a notorious episode from the country's past. The result is a novel of great scope and deep human feeling, of passion and reconciliation.

Here Comes the Sun
by Nicole Dennis-Benn
2017 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction
Working as a prostitute near the pristine beaches and turquoise seas of Jamaica to pay for a younger sister's education, Margot hopes that a new hotel that is reshaping her home will grant her financial independence and allow her to pursue a forbidden affair with another woman.

Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi
2016 National Book Critics John Leonard Award for a best first book in any genre, 2017 American Book Award
Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration and the realities of 20th-century Harlem.

I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel
by Percival Everett
2010 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
The novel follows the life of a young man named Not Sidney Poitier, after he was orphaned at age eleven and inherited a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.

Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison
1953 National Book Award
An African-American man's search for success and the American dream leads him out of college to Harlem and a growing sense of personal rejection and social invisibility.

The Known World
by Edward P. Jones
2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award, 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
When a plantation proprietor and former slave--now possessing slaves of his own--dies, his household falls apart in the wake of a slave rebellion and corrupt underpaid patrollers who enable free black people to be sold into slavery.

A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest J. Gaines
1993 National Book Critics Circle Award
In 1948 Louisiana, a young teacher is asked to impart some of his own pride and learning to a young Black man awaiting execution, only to come face to face with his own cynicism and hopelessness.

The Living Blood
by Tananarive Due
2002 American Book Award
Struggling to rebuild her life after the disappearance of her husband and the death of her oldest daughter, Jessica discovers that her other daughter has inherited her father's immortality, so she sets out for Africa in search of guidance.

Man Gone Down
by Michael Thomas 
2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Approaching his thirty-fifth birthday estranged from his white Boston Brahmin wife and three children, an impoverished African-American construction worker evaluates his inner-city Boston childhood, the abuses he suffered at the hands of his parents, and the disparity between the promise of his intellectual potential and his real-world achievements.

The Memory of Love
by Aminatta Forna
2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best Book, 2011 Women’s Prize Finalist
While a gifted young surgeon is haunted by memories of the civil war that has decimated his Sierra Leone home, a patient relates disturbing stories about the post-colonial years and a well-intentioned British psychologist draws all of them into the path of an enigmatic woman.

Middle Passage
by Charles Johnson     
1990 National Book Award
In 1830, seeking to escape an unwanted marriage, Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave, becomes a stowaway aboard "The Republic," unaware that the ship is a slave clipper bound for West Africa.

The Moor's Account
by Laila Lalami
2015 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, 2015 American Book Award
In this stunning work of historical fiction, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America--a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record.

Mr. Fox
by Helen Oyeyemi
2012 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding, and the fairy tales don't get complicated. In this book, the celebrated writer Mr. Fox can't stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It's not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently.

Nervous Conditions
by Tsitsi Dangarembga   
1989 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
Nervous Conditions brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women's rights. By now a classic in African literature and Black women's literature internationally, Nervous Conditions is a must for anyone wanting to understand voice, memory, and coming of age for young Black women in Africa.

Parable of the Talents
by Octavia E. Butler
2000 Nebula Award for Best Novel 
Laura Olamina's daughter, Larkin, describes the broken and alienated world of 2032, as war racks the North American continent and an ultra-conservative religious crusader becomes president.

The Perfect Nanny
by Leïla Slimani
2016 Prix Goncourt
After a French couple finds a too-good-to-be-true nanny to care for their two children, the relationship between the couple and the nanny soon becomes full of jealousy, resentment, and suspicion.

Philadelphia Fire
by John Edgar Wideman
1991 American Book Award, 1991 PEN/Faulkner Award
At once personal and political, this novel about being Black and male in white America depicts an unyielding core of individual resistance and demonstrates with tragic immediacy how America's mixed signals foster false hopes.

The Salt Eaters 
by Toni Cade Bambara 
1981 American Book Award
As she sits in an infirmary and is questioned by a faith healer, Velma Henry probes her reasons for attempting to commit suicide, and the healing that takes place affects the lives of her town's Black inhabitants.

Say You're One of Them
by Uwem Akpan
2009 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances. 

The Sellout
by Paul Beatty
2016 Booker Prize, 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award
After his down-trodden hometown is removed from the map of California to save the state further embarrassment, a young man undertakes a course of action to draw attention to the town, resulting in a racially charged trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward
2017 National Book Award for Fiction, 2018 Women’s Prize Finalist
Living with his grandparents and sister on a Gulf Coast farm, Jojo navigates the challenges of his mother's addictions and his grandmother's cancer before the release of his father from prison prompts a road trip of danger and hope.

Small Island
by Andrea Levy          
2004 Women’s Prize, 2004 Whitbread Book of the Year, 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
At the end of World War II the Joseph family arrives in London from Jamaica and Queenie, their white landlady, befriends them, until her racist husband, Bernard, arrives home from the front.

The Summer We Got Free
by Mia McKenzie
2012 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction
At one time a wild young girl and a brilliant artist, Ava Delaney changes dramatically after a violent event that rocks her entire family. Once loved and respected in their community and in their church, the Delaneys are ostracized by their neighbors, led by their church leader, and a seventeen-year feud ensues.

The Talented Ribkins
by Ladee Hubbard
2018 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction
In a family gifted with superpowers, patriarch Johnny Ribkins, who can make precise maps of any space, finds himself racing the clock to dig up the loot he's stashed across Florida in order to repay his mobster boss for what he stole.

Three Strong Women
by Marie Ndiaye
2009 Prix Goncourt
Follows the stories of three women who discover the power of saying no, including a lawyer who must save a victim of her tyrannical father, a Dakar teacher whose happiness is thwarted by a depressed boyfriend, and a penniless widow desperate to escape homelessness.

The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
2016 National Book Award, 2017 Pulitzer Prize, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
After Cora, a slave in pre-Civil War Georgia, escapes with another slave, Caesar, they seek the help of the Underground Railroad as they flee from state to state and try to evade a slave catcher, Ridgeway, who is determined to return them to the South.

Under the Tongue
by Yvonne Vera
1997 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
Adolescent Zhizha has lost the will to speak. In lyrical fragments, Vera relates the story of Zhizha's parents, and the horrifying events that led to her mother's imprisonment and her father's death.

Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta 
2016 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction
A young Nigerian girl, displaced during their civil war, begins a powerful love affair with another refugee girl from a different ethnic community until the pair are discovered and must learn the cost of living a lie amidst taboos and prejudices.

We Need New Names
by NoViolet Bulawayo
2013 Booker Finalist, 2014 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
Follows ten-year-old Zimbabwe native Darling as she escapes the closed schools and paramilitary police control of her homeland in search of opportunity and freedom with an aunt in America.

White Teeth
by Zadie Smith
2000 Whitbread First Novel Award, 2000 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, 2000 Commonwealth Writers’ First Book Award
Set in post-war London, this novel of the racial, political, and social upheaval of the last half-century follows two families--the Joneses and the Iqbals, both outsiders from within the former British empire--as they make their way in modern England.

Who Fears Death
by Nnedi Okorafor
2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Born into post-apocalyptic Africa to a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.

Yabo
by Alexis De Veaux
2015 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction
Alexis De Veaux's work is defined by two critical concerns: making the racial and sexual experiences of black female characters central, and disrupting boundaries between forms.