Friday, February 05, 2010

100 Favorite African American Books of the 20th Century

In honor of African American History Month (which we celebrate at Literanista on the daily), here are the AALBC's Favorite 100 African American Books of the 20th Century:

The Color Purple - Alice Walker
Their Eyes Were Watching God- Zora Neale Hurston
Beloved- Toni Morrison
And This Too Shall Pass - E. Lynn Harris
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
Some Love, Some Pain, Some Time: Stories - J. California Cooper
Disappearing Acts - Terry McMillan
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
Native Son- Richard Wright
2nd Time Around- James Earl Hardy
A Raisin In The Sun - Lorraine Hansberry
Homemade Love - J. California Cooper
Sister, Sister- Eric Jerome Dickey
Kindred - Octavia Butler
A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest Gaines
Flyy Girl- Omar Tyree
Friends and Lovers- Eric Jerome Dickey
Tumbling - Dianne Mckinney-Whetstone
Blessings- Sheneska Jackson
Waiting to Exhale - Terry McMillan
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/when the Rainbow Is Enuf: A Choreopoem - Ntozake Shange
A Little Yellow Dog- Walter Mosley
The Autobiography of Malcolm X- Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Invisible Life: Fifth Anniversary Edition- E. Lynn Harris
Possessing the Secret of Joy - Alice Walker
Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America - Nathan McCall
Just as I Am - E. Lynn Harris
Mama Day- Gloria Naylor
The Wedding- Dorothy West
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Breath, Eyes, Memory - Edwidge Danticat
Li'l Mama's Rules - Sheneska Jackson
One Better- Rosalyn McMillan
Your Blues Ain't Like Mine - Bebe Moore Campbell
Devil in a Blue Dress- Walter Mosley
Sula - Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
A Gathering of Old Men - Ernest Gaines
My Soul to Keep - Tananarive Due
Roots: The Saga of an American Family - Alex Haley
The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (1968-1995) - Nikki Giovanni
The Street - Ann Petry
Cane - Jean Toomer - Terry McMillian
Tar Baby - Toni Morrison
The Souls of Black Folk (Modern Library Series) - W.E.B.  DuBois
Ugly Ways- Tina McElroy Ansa
Another Country- James Baldwin
Black Gold- Anita Richmond Bunkley
Caught up in the Rapture- Sheneska Jackson
Only Twice I've Wished for Heaven - Dawn Turner
Trice The Heart of a Woman - Maya Angelou
A Do Right Man- Omar Tyree
Go Tell It on the Mountain - James Baldwin
The Between - Tananarive Due
The Hand I Fan With - Tina McElroy Ansa
The Piano Lesson - August Wilson
The Spook Who Sat by the Door- Sam Greenlee
Big Girls Don't Cry- Connie Briscoe
Knowing - Rosalyn McMillan
Paradise - Toni Morrison
The Best of Simple - Langston Hughes
The Third Life of Grange Copeland- Alice Walker
Trying to Sleep in the Bed you Made- Out-of-Print
Bailey's Cafe - Gloria Naylor
In Search of Satisfaction - J. California Cooper
Just above My Head - James Baldwin
The Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler
Tempest Rising - Diane McKinney - Whetstone< The Fire Next Time (Modern Library Series)- James Baldwin
The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors - Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

Mama Black Widow- Iceberg Slim
Miss Ophelia- Mary Burnett Smith
The Wake of the Wind- J. California Cooper
Baby of the Family - Tina McElroy Ansa
Billy- Albert French
Black Betty- Walter Mosley
Manchild in the Promised Land - Claude Brown

Novels and Stories of Zora Neale Hurston (Library of America)
- Zora Neale Hurston
The Women of Brewster Place- Gloria Naylor
Bessie - Chris Albertson
Black Boy: (American Hunger) - Richard Wright
Magic City - Jewell Rhodes Parker
Scenes from a Sistah - Lolita Files
The Color of Love - Sandra Kitt
What a Woman's Gotta Do - Evelyn Coleman
B-Boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-on-Black Love Story - James Earl Hardy
Belly Song and Other Poems- Etheridge Knight
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother- James McBride
Corregidora - Gayl Jones
Giovanni's Room- James Baldwin
I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots: A Novel - Susan Straight
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens - Alice Walker
Jazz- Toni Morrison
Middle Passage- Charles Johnson
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination- Toni Morrison
Push- Sapphire
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man- James Weldon Johnson
Sounder- William H. Armstrong

I have read many of these books and some I'm not familiar with at all but I like this list because it's very inclusive and covers many genres and issues. However, of course, it's a tad outdated and missing recent must-reads.

How many of these have you read? Are there any obvious ones or not so obvious ones missing?


  1. What about recent books by authors Coe Booth, Sharon Draper, Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Flake, Rita Garcia Williams, all YA books, all terrific!

  2. What about the Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. DuBois? I love A Raisin in the Sun and I Know why the Caged bird Sings. I need to read e.Lyn Harris and Edwidge Danticat and Walter Mosley.

    What a great list!

    @bj-It's 20th century fiction only.

  3. wow, can't believe you were able to post all of those!

    I will be reading a Raisin in The Sun in my current semester at school!

    what a great list here!


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