A selection of great fiction by African American authors, from page turners to prize-winners.
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A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America. Available to download: eBook
A surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community - and the things that ultimately haunt us most. It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance - and the subsequent cover-up - will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. Available to download: eBook Audio
Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother's childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor--someone, or something, to love. Available to download: eBook Audio
When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where she was raised. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York steeped in the promise of a happier life and the possible rekindling of their young love. But Patsy's plans don't include her overzealous, evangelical mother-or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru. Beating with the pulse of a long-withheld confession, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to choose herself first-not to give a better life to her family back home. Available to download: eBook
The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone--and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts--and shapes--their family's future. Available to download: eBook Audio
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy, the living embodiment of the New South, are settling into the routine of their life together when Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. An insightful look into the lives of people who are bound and separated by forces beyond their control. Available to download: eBook Audio
Loretha Curry's life is full. A little crowded sometimes, but full indeed. On the eve of her sixty-eighth birthday, she has a booming beauty-supply empire, a gaggle of lifelong friends, and a husband whose moves still surprise. But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness, and determination to keep on thriving, pursue joy, heal old wounds, and chart new paths. With a little help from her friends, of course. Available to download: eBook
This historically inspired story of two black women one hundred years apart tells of Josephine and her descendant, a single mother who moves in with her white grandmother, but soon must find escape. Available to download: eBook
Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is studying for a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, he has kept a distance even from his own friends - some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community. Available to download: eBook
A collection of moving, timely, and darkly funny stories that examines the concept of black identity in this so-called post-racial era. These stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body.
Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Available to download: eBook Audio
JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he's startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Available to download: eBook Audio
Spanning eras and generations, this sweeping story brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. It tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother's footsteps as a midwife; and their master's daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom. Available to download: eBook
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. Available to download: eBook Audio
Henry Townsend, a former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor--William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful white man in antebellum Virginia's Manchester County. Under Robbins's tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation as well as his own slaves, but tragically fails to understand the fundamental flaws in his thinking that he can be a better slave master than a white man. Available to download: eBook
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother's monumental courage and the journey of a nation. Available to download: eBook Audio
A Pulitzer Prize-winning tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Available to download: eBook Audio
Spanning decades in a rural North Carolina town where a canal acts as the color line, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love. Available to download: eBook
Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything--until it wasn't. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant--a part of a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. Available to download: eBook Audio
An extraordinary fiction debut: a large, stirring novel of suspense that is, at the same time, a work of brilliantly astute social observation. Set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the eastern seaboard—old families who summer on Martha’s Vineyard—and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school, this novel tells the story of a complex family with a single, seductive link to the shadowlands of crime.
Dayna Anderson doesn't set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money--she wants justice for the victim. First in a series.
Along the ever-changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, seventeen-year-old Monique Darson is found dead at a condominium construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished unit. Homicide detective Elouise "Lou" Norton's new partner, Colin Taggert, fresh from the comparatively bucolic Colorado Springs police department, assumes it's a teenage suicide. Lou isn't buying the easy explanation. First in a series.
When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules -- a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders -- a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman -- have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes -- and save himself in the process -- before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. First in a series. Available to download: eBook Audio
1948, Los Angeles: The mortgage payment's coming due, so Easy Rawlins accepts the assignment of finding Daphne Monet, a blonde torch singer with a penchant for jazz and criminal black consorts. In his search through a sleazy, fearful city, he is lucky to be under the protection of the murderous Mouse who wants a piece of the action. (Novelist) First in a series.
It's hard enough making ends meet on the pittance Blanche White earns doing day work for the genteel Southern families of North Carolina. But when her fourth bad check lands her a jail sentence, Blanche goes on the lam. Inadvertently, she finds work at the summer home of a wealthy family, the members of which have plenty of their own secrets. And when a dead body is discovered, Blanche finds herself the prime suspect. Using her wit and intelligence -not to mention the remarkably efficient old-girl network among domestic workers -she gets to work uncovering the real killer before she lands in more hot water. First in a series.
It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War. FBI agent Marie Mitchell is a brilliant young black woman in an old boys' club. Her career has stalled, so given the opportunity to join a task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic Communist revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, she says yes. Even though she secretly admires the work he is doing. Even though she's still grieving the mysterious death of her sister. Even though a furious part of her suspects she's being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent. And doing so will change everything Marie believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American. Available to download: eBook
Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance- How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he's not sure he wants her to dump him. Available to download: eBook Audio
When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop - and their plans are complicated by a shop employee who volunteers to help the brothers learn the business. Available to download: eBook
Logan Yates, a self-important ranch owner, must confront his feelings for his beautiful, free spirited housekeeper, Mariah Cooper. While they bicker incessantly, their sexual tension is palpable, and only rises when Mariah's former lover arrives on the scene. Will she accept Logan's heart? First in a series. Available to download: eBook
Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem- Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights. First in a series. Available to download: eBook
After being catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend, Samiah is making a pact to spend the next six months investing in herself. No men and no dating. For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she's always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy Daniel Collins at work. Available to download: eBook
Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
In 2025 California, an eighteen-year-old African American woman, suffering from a hereditary trait that causes her to feel others' pain as well as her own, flees northward from her small community and its desperate savages. Available to download: eBook
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her, but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram's resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures. Available to download: eBook Audio
The sun has grown deadly, the world has gone mad, society has perished, savagery rules over all. All that was known is over. All that was familiar is strange and terrible. Today and yesterday collide with tomorrow. In these dying days of earth, a young drifter enters the city. Available to download: eBook Audio
This is the way the world ends...for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy. First in the Broken Earth Trilogy. Available to download: eBook Audio
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. Available to download: eBook
A brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo that manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Available to download: Audio
The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society--and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award-nominated song "The Deep" from Daveed Diggs's rap group clipping. Available to download: eBook Audio
After the death of a boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families in the U.S. Virgin Islands find themselves in conflict with the superadvanced alien race, witnesses and victims to events that will teach a terrible lesson. Available to download: Audio
It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred. Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we'd like to believe. Available to download: eBook
With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin, in his first major work, chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. Available to download: eBook Audio
A first novel by an unknown writer that remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. Available to download: eBook Audio
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, this novel brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years--due largely to initial audiences' rejection of its strong black female protagonist--Hurston's classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. Available to download: eBook Audio
Married to a successful physician and prominently ensconced in Harlem's vibrant society of the 1920s, Irene Redfield leads a charmed existence-until she is shaken out of it by a chance encounter with a childhood friend who has been "passing for white." Available to download: eBook
After Paul D. finds his old slave friend Sethe in Ohio and moves in with her and her daughter Denver, a strange girl comes along by the name of "Beloved." Sethe and Denver take her in and then strange things begin to happen. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize. Available to download: eBook Audio
The poignant, often heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to raise her son amid the violence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1946 and hailed by critics as a masterwork, The Street was Ann Petry's first novel, a beloved bestseller with more than a million copies in print. Its haunting tale still resonates today.
First published in 1923, this innovative literary work--part drama, part poetry, part fiction--powerfully evokes black life in the South. Rich in imagery, Toomer's impressionistic, sometimes surrealistic sketches of Southern rural and urban life are permeated by visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and fire; the northern world is pictured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets.
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, as a young, black woman living in 1930s Georgia, Celie faces constant violence and oppression. She survives the brutality of incest before being married off to "Mr.," who routinely abuses her both physically and emotionally. Eventually, Celie develops a deep bond with her husband's mistress Shug, and it is through this relationship that she understands she is a woman capable of being loved and respected. Available to download: eBook
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. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard 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. Available to download: eBook Audio