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The 29 Best Black History Novels by Black Writers

5 Books | by Likewise User verified icon

Celebrate Black History Month with historical fiction from Black voices.

Libertie

Libertie

Books

Named One of the Most-Anticipated Books of 2021 by:O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, The Millions, Refinery29, Publishers Lunch, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, BookPage, Harper's Bazaar, Ms., Goodreads, and more “An elegantly layered, beautifully rendered tour de force that is not to be missed.”  —Roxane Gay, author of Hunger “Libertie is a feat of monumental thematic imagination.” —Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, The New York Times Book Review“This is one of the most thoughtful and amazingly beautiful books I’ve read all year. Kaitlyn Greenidge is a master storyteller.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone The critically acclaimed and Whiting Award–winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman returns with Libertie, an unforgettable story about one young Black girl’s attempt to find a place where she can be fully, and only, herself. Coming of age in a free Black community in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, has a vision for their future together: Libertie is to go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her light-skinned mother, Libertie will not be able to pass for white. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come. Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new and immersive novel will resonate with readers eager to understand our present through a deep, moving, and lyrical dive into our past.

Beloved

Beloved

Books

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An unflinchingly look into the abyss of slavery, from the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner. 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.

The Good Lord Bird

The Good Lord Bird

Books

Now a Showtime limited series starring Ethan Hawke and Daveed DiggsWinner of the National Book Award for FictionFrom the bestselling author of Deacon King Kong (an Oprah Book Club pick) and The Color of Water comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1856--a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces--when legendary abolitionist John Brown arrives. When an argument between Brown and Henry's master turns violent, Henry is forced to leave town--along with Brown, who believes Henry to be a girl and his good luck charm.Over the ensuing months, Henry, whom Brown nicknames Little Onion, conceals his true identity to stay alive. Eventually Brown sweeps him into the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859--one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride's meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

The Prophets

The Prophets

Books

*A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*'Rarely is a book this finely wrought, the lives and histories it holds so tenderly felt, and rendered unforgettably true' Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly GorgeousIn this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love - away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs - where they can be alone together.But, Amos - a fellow slave - has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul's gospel, he betrays them.The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr's breathtaking debut, The Prophets.

Yellow Wife

Yellow Wife

Books

A Best Book of 2021 by NPR and Christian Science Monitor Called “wholly engrossing” by New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Grissom, this “fully immersive” (Lisa Wingate, #1 bestselling author of Before We Were Yours) story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world. She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.

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