African American Literature Book Club Recommended Reading List


  Recommended Reading By Troy Johnson


N. K. Jemisin the Only Writer to Win the Best Novel Hugo Award in three Consecutive Years

The Hugo Awards are generally considered the highest honors bestowed in science fiction and fantasy writing. The Best Novel Hugo Award is considered the most prestigious of all the award categories. Previous winners of the Best Novel Hugo Award winners have included Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.

In 2016, Jemisin became the first Black writer to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season. She would go on the win again in 2017 and 2018 with The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky, respectively. These novels make up the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling Broken Earth trilogy.


Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon

Zora and Me, the 2nd in three book series, is a powerful fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood adventures. “Twelve-year-old Zora Neale Hurston is as brave and adventurous as her best friend, Carrie Brown, is cautious. The year is 1903, and the girls live in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated all-black town in the U.S. Late one night, during an escapade, the girls discover their friend Mr. Polk injured outside his cabin. Mr. Polk is known to be mute, but to the girls’ surprise, he speaks—though not in English…” —Kirkus

Watch a new AALBC video of T.R. Simon describing her recently released young adult novel.


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Has garnered a myriad of accolades including being, a 4-Time Bestselling Bookwinning a National Book Award, and being named a New York Times Notable Book. These are some of the reasons AALBC as chosen it for our online Book Club’s October selection.

Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, described Sing as “…a road novel turned on its head, and a family story with its feet to the fire. Lyric and devastating, Ward’s unforgettable characters straddle past and present in this spellbinding return to the rural Mississippi of her first book. You’ll never read anything like it.”


I Love You More Than… by Taye Diggs, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Diggs and Evans have teamed up, once again, to bring us a beautifully illustrated book that speaks to the theme of families which may look different than others.

Here a father, who doesn’t live full-time with his son, tells him all the ways he misses and loves him. This book is ideal for families who are separated, the message of love underscores the bond between parent and child in ways that little ones will understand.


Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry

A revealing portrait of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties. While her close friends and contemporaries, like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, have been rightly celebrated, her story has been diminished and relegated to one work—until now. In 2018, Hansberry will get the recognition she deserves with the PBS American Masters documentary “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” and Imani Perry’s multi-dimensional, illuminating biography, Looking for Lorraine.


My Mother. Barack Obama. Donald Trump. And the Last Stand of the Angry White Man.: An Autobiography of America by Kevin Powell

Written in the spirit of Joan Didion’s essay Notes from a Native Daughter and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, a revelatory look at today’s America from writer and activist Kevin Powell as told through an examination of three crucial figures in his life: his mother, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Through personal anecdotes and painstaking research, Kevin Powell delivers an autobiography of America as well as revealing portraits of three diverse and important people in his lifetime. First, he offers an intimate look at his mother, a product of the American South who lived through segregation, classism, and sexism—and still succeeded in raising her son to become a strong Black man.


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