Recommended Reading

Are you interested in studying African American literature? Here is a
recommended reading list for advancing your knowledge of African
American literary studies. This list is by no means comprehensive,
but it will provide the reader excellent insight on the key issues,
movements, form, and history of the African American literary
tradition. The reading list is in chronological order by publication
date.  It also shows my own literary bias.  I would also be remiss if I failed to acknowledge that new works appear everyday, though I am not updating this list regularly. (Compiled by KM )

Narratives/Biographies:
1.      The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano – Olaudah Equiano (1789)
2.      David Walker’s Appeal – David Walker (1829)
3.      The Confessions of Nat Turner – Nat Turner & Thomas Gray (1831)
4.      Narrative of the Life and Times of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself  —Frederick Douglass (1845)
5.      Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl—Harriet Jacobs (1861)
6.      Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington (1900)
7.      Souls of BlackFolk – W. E. B. DuBois (1903)
8.      The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Alex Haley (1965)
9.      Assata Shakur: An Autobiography – Assata Shakur (1987)

Fiction:
10.   Clotel; or, the President’s Daughter – William Wells Brown (1853)
11.    Blake, or the Huts of America—Martin Delany (1859-62)
12.   Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a two-story, White House—Harriet Wilson (1859)
13.   The Conjure Woman – Charles Chesnutt (1899)
14.   The House Behind the Cedars – Charles Chesnutt (1900)
15.   The Autobiography of an ex-Colored Man – James Weldon Johnson (1912)
16.   Cane – Jean Toomer (1923)
17.   Quicksand – Nella Larsen (1928)
18.   The Walls of Jericho – Rudolph Fisher (1928)
19.   Passing – Nella Larsen (1929)
20.  Black No More – George Schuyler (1931)
21.   Infants of the Spring – Wallace Thurman (1932)
22.  The Conjure Man Dies – Rudolph Fisher (1932)
23.  The Ways of White Folks – Langston Hughes (1934)
24.  Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
25.  Aunt Sara’s Wooden God—Mercedes Gilbert (1938)
26.  Native Son – Richard Wright (1940)
27.  Black Boy – Richard Wright (1945)
28.  If He Hollers Let Him Go—Chester Himes (1945)
29.  The Street – Ann Petry (1946)
30.  Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison (1952)
31.   Maud Martha – Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)
32.  The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin (1963)
33.  Jubilee – Margaret Walker (1966)
34.  Almost Midnight – Don Belton (1966)
35.  Mojo Hand: An Orphic Tale – J. J. Phillips (1966)
36.  Groove, Bang, and Jive Around – Steve Cannon (1969)
37.  Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down—Ishmael Reed (1969)
38.  The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison (1970)
39.  Lord of Dark Places – Hal Bennett (1970)
40. Mumbo Jumbo – Ishmael Reed (1972)
41.   If Beale Street Could Talk—James Baldwin (1973)
42.  Ark of Bones and Other Stories—Henry Dumas (1974)
43.  Oreo–Fran Ross (1974)
44. Corregidora – Gayl Jones (1975)
45.  Flight to Canada – Ishmeal Reed (1976)
46. Meridian – Alice Walker (1976)
47.  Song of Solomon –Toni Morrison (1977)
48. Sally Hemmings – Barbara Chase-Riboud (1979)
49. Wild Seed – Octavia Butler (1980)
50.  Tar Baby – Toni Morrison (1981)
51.   The Salt Eaters – Toni Cade Bambara (1981)
52.  Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo – Ntozake Shange (1982)
53.  The Color Purple – Alice Walker (1982)
54.  The Women of Brewster Place – Gloria Naylor (1982)
55.  A Gathering of Old Men – Ernest Gaines (1983)
56.  Praise Song for the Widow – Paule Marshall (1983)
57.  De Mojo Blues: De Quest of High John De Conqueror – Arthur Flowers (1985)
58.  Dessa Rose – Sherley Anne Williams (1986)
59.  Beloved – Toni Morrison (1987)
60. Mama Day – Gloria Naylor (1988)
61.   Baby of the Family – Tina McElroy Ansa (1989)
62.  Middle Passage – Charles Johnson (1990)
63.  Devil in a Blue Dress – Walter Mosely (1990)
64. Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine – Bebe Moore Campbell (1992)
65.  Bailey’s Café – Gloria Naylor (1992)
66. Negrophobia – Darius James (1992)
67.  A Lesson Before Dying – Ernest Gaines (1993)
68. Another Good Loving Blues – Arthur Flowers (1993)
69. Voodoo Dreams – Jewell Parker Rhodes (1993)
70.  Ugly Ways – Tina McElroy Ansa (1993)
71.   The Hand I Fan With – Tina McElroy Ansa (1996)
72.  Cattle Killing – John Edgar Wideman (1996)
73.  White Boy Shuffle—Paul Beatty (1996)
74.  Daughters of the Dust–Julie Dash (1997)
75.  Paradise – Toni Morrison (1997)
76.  Caucasia – Danzy Senna (1998)
77.   The Healing—Gayl Jones (1998)
78.  Juneteenth — Ralph Ellison (2000)
79.  The Root Worker – Rainelle Burton (2001)
80. The Wind Done Gone — Alice Randall (2002)

Short Fiction:
81.   “The Mulatto”—Victor Sèjour (1837)
82.  “The Two Offers” – Frances E.W. Harper (1859)
83.  “Sweat”– Zora Neale Hurston (1926)
84.  “The Gilded Six-bits”– Zora Neale Hurston (1933)
85.  “A Summer Tragedy” –Arna Bontemps (1933)
86. “Salute to the Passing”- Chester Himes (1937)
87.  “Long Black Song”- Richard Wright (1938)
88. “Sonny’s Blues” – James Baldwin (1957)
89. “Reena” –Paule Marshall (1962)
90. “The Sky is Gray” – Ernest Gaines (1963)
91.   “Tell Martha Not to Moan” – Sherley Ann Williams (1967)
92.  “Everyday Use” – Alice Walker (1971)
93.  “My Man Bovanne” –Toni Cade Bambara (1972)
94. “Strong Horse Tea” – Alice Walker (1973)
95.  “The Revenge of Hannah Kemhuff” – Alice Walker (1973)
96. “Oh She Gotta Head Fulla Hair” – Ntozake Shange (1978)
97.  “Recitatif” – Toni Morrison (1983)
98. “Bloodchild” – Octavia Butler (1984)
99. “Damballah” – John Edgar Wideman (1985)
100. “Feeling For Life” – J. California Cooper (1987)
101.  “Sisters of the Rain” – J. California Cooper (1987)
102.  “A New Shower Massage, Phone Sex, and Separation” – Tina McElroy Ansa (1993)
103.  “Black Men, White Women: A Sister Relinquishes Her Anger” –Bebe Moore Campbell (1993)
104.  “New York Day Women” –Edwidge Danticat (1995)
105. “Press & Curl” –Tayari Jones (2002)
106. “Are You Experienced?” –Danzy Senna (2002)
107.  “Helter Skelter” –Marita Golden (2002)

Plays:
108.  The Escape; or a Leap for Freedom – William Wells Brown (1858)
109.  Color Struck—Zora Neale Hurston (1925)
110.   Blue Blood – Georgia Douglass Johnson (1926)
111.  Plumes – Georgia Douglass Johnson (1927)
112. A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
113. Dutchman – Amiri Baraka (1964)
114.  The Slave – Amiri Baraka  (1964)
115. For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf – Ntozake Shange (1975)
116.   Fences – August Wilson (1986)
117. Piano Lesson — August Wilson (1990)
118.   The Colored Museum – George C. Wolfe (1986)
119.   Venus: A Play – Susan Lori Parks (1996)
120.  Topdog/Underdog — Susan Lori Parks (2001)

Poetry:
121. “Bar Fights”— Lucy Terry (1746)
122.   “On Being Brougth from Africa to America” – Phillis Wheatley (1773)
123.  “Eliza Harris” – Frances Harper (1853)
124. “O Black and Unknown Bards” – James Weldon Johnson (1908)
125.  “Go Down Death” – James Weldon Johnson (?)
126. “When Malindy Sings” – Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1895)
127.  “We Wear the Mask” – Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1895)
128. “The Haunted Oak” – Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1903)
129. “If We Must Die” – Claude McKay (1919)
130. “A Black Man Speaks of Reaping” – Arna Bontemps (1926)
131.“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” – Langston Hughes (1921)
132.  “Mother to Son” – Langston Hughes (1922)
133.  “Yet Do I Marvel” – Countee Cullen (1925)
134. “Incident” – Countee Cullen (1925)
135.  “Heritage” – Countee Cullen (1925)
136. “No Image” Waring Cuney (1926)
137.  “Red Silk Stockings” – Langston Hughes (1927)
138. “I Want to Die While You Love Me” – Georgia Douglas Johnson (1927)
139. “Kitchenette Building” – Gwendolyn Brooks (1945)
140.  “Homage to the Empress of the Blues” – Robert Hayden (1948)
141.  “Harlem” – Langston Hughes (1959)
142. “We Real Cool” – Gwendolyn Brooks (1960)
143. “The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock” – Gwendolyn Brooks (1960)
144. “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note”—Amiri Baraka (1961)
145. “My Poem” – Nikki Giovanni (1968)
146. “Hard Rocks Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane” –Etheridge Knight (1968)
147. “Beautiful Black Men” – Nikki Giovanni (1968)
148. “Seduction” – Nikki Giovanni (1968)
149.   “If You Come Softly” – Audre Lorde (1968)
150. “Nikki-Rosa” – Nikki Giovanni (1968)
151. “I am a Black Woman” –Mari Evans (1969)
152.  “I Don’t Love You”—Amiri Baraka (1969)
153.  “Summer Words of a Sistuh Addict” – Sonia Sanchez (1969)
154.  “Black Art”—Amiri Baraka (1969)
155.  “Ego-Trippin’ ” – Nikki Giovanni (1970)
156. “Neo-HooDoo Manifesto” – Ishmael Reed (1972)
157.   “Railroad Bill, a Conjure Man” – Ishmael Reed (1972)
158. “Now That I am Forever With Child” – Audre Lorde (1976)
159.  “Nappy Edges”—Ntozake Shange (1978)
160. “Homage to My Hips” – Lucille Clifton (1980)
161.  “Poem About My Rights” – June Jordan (1980)
162.  “Round Midnight” – Clarence Major (1984)
163. “Within the Veil”—Michelle Cliff (1985)
164. Thomas and Beulah – Rita Dove (1986)
165. “Wishes for Sons” – Lucille Clifton (1990)
166.  “Conjugal Visits”—Al Young (1996)

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