Beloved by Toni Morrison
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A phenomenal #1 bestseller that has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly three years, this memoir traces Maya Angelou's childhood in a small, rural community during the 1930s. Filled with images and recollections that point to the dignity and courage of black men and women, Angelou paints a sometimes disquieting, but always affecting picture of the people—and the times—that touched her life.
Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey
"Recommended....Dickey uses humor, poignancy and a fresh, creative writing style....The reader is hooked from the first sentence." --USA Today In this sexy, soulful tale of love, betrayal, and friendship set in modern-day Los Angeles, the lives of four young African Americans--two men and two women--are chronicled through the love and the laughter, as well as the heartache and pain of not-so-everyday life. A witty, honest portrait of contemporary mores and humanity in which the gender gap isn't merely investigated but celebrated.
Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
Waiting to Exhale is a story about four African-American women — Savannah, Robin, Bernie, and Gloria — who go through different stages of love and life. Savannah "Vannah" Jackson is a successful television producer who holds on to the belief that one day her married lover will leave his wife for her. Bernadine "Bernie" Harris, abandons her own career dreams and desire of having a catering business to raise a family, and support her husband, who leaves her for a white woman. Robin Stokes is a high-powered executive and the long-time mistress of married Russell, who has problems finding a decent man of her own after dumping him. Gloria "Glo" Matthews is a beauty salon owner and single mother. After years alone, and finding out that her ex-husband who is also the father of her son, has come out of the closet as gay, she falls in love with a new neighbor, Marvin King. The four friends get together to provide support, listen to each other vent about life and love, and have fun, as they go through life's trials and tribulations.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
Once the home of poor Irish and Italian immigrants, Brewster Place, a rotting tenement on a dead-end street, now shelters black families. This novel portrays the courage, the fear, and the anguish of some of the women there who hold their families together, trying to make a home. Among them are: Mattie Michael, the matriarch who loses her son to prison; Etta Mae Johnson who tries to trade the 'high life' for marriage with a local preacher; Kiswana Browne who leaves her middle-class family to organize a tenant's union.
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
In a stunning first novel, renowned hip-hop artist, writer, and activist Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life with a powerful and utterly unforgettable tale.
Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, businessminded, and fashionable, Winter knows no restrictions. No one can control her. She's nobody's victim. And her Pops lets her know she deserves the best.
Winter knows the Brooklyn streets like she knows the curves of her own body. She maneuvers skillfully, applying all she has learned to come out on top, no matter how dramatically the scenes change. But a cold Winter wind is about to blow her life in a direction she could never have expected.
Unwilling to give up her ghetto celebrity status, her friends and her lovers, Winter sets off on a series of wild adventures to reclaim her role as princess of the alleyways. But when her schemes begin to unravel, Winter is on her own, figuring out a whole new way to survive.
The Coldest Winter Ever marks the debut of a gifted storyteller. Sister Souljah explores a young urban woman's innermost state of mind in a voice as bold as it is bracingly honest. Provocative and thoroughly entertaining, this is a daring novel of passion, loss, courage - and of the sometimes terrible tolls exacted from us just to stay alive. You will never forget this Winter's tale.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country. Passionate and fearless, Shange's words reveal what it is to be of color and female in the twentieth century. Here is the complete text, with stage directions, of a groundbreaking dramatic prose poem written in vivid and powerful language that resonates with unusual beauty in its fierce message to the world.
Your Blues Ain't Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell
Now, in her first novel, repercussions are felt for decades in a dozen lives after a racist beating turns to cold-blooded murder in a small 1950s Mississippi town.
Chicago-born Amrstrong Tood is fifteen, black, and unused to the ways of the segregated Deep South, when his mother sends him to spend the summer with relatives in rural Mississippi. For speaking a few innocuous words in French to a white woman, Armstrong is killed. And the precariously balanced world and its determined people--white and black--are changed, then and forever, by the horror of poverty, the legacy of justice, and the singular gift of love's power to heal.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published—perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.