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African American (updated 8/31/22)
The Love Songs of W. E. B. du Bois by
Publication Date: 2021-08-24
The 2020 NAACP Image Award-winning poet makes her fiction debut with this National Book Award-longlisted, magisterial epic--an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer--that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era. The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called "Double Consciousness," a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois''s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans--the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers--Ailey carries Du Bois''s Problem on her shoulders. Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother''s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that''s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women--her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries--that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead. To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family''s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors--Indigenous, Black, and white--in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story--and the song--of America itself.
The Nickel Boys (Winner 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) by
Publication Date: 2019-07-16
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning follow-up to The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood's only salvation is his friendship with fellow "delinquent" Turner, which deepens despite Turner's conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers and "should further cement Whitehead as one of his generation's best" (Entertainment Weekly). Look for Colson Whitehead's bestselling new novel, Harlem Shuffle!
The Personal Librarian by
Publication Date: 2021-06-29
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white - her complexion is dark because she is African American.
Publication Date: 2022-02-01
In this 1983 short story--the only short story Morrison ever wrote--we meet Twyla and Roberta, who have known each other since they were eight years old and spent four months together as roommates in St. Bonaventure shelter. Inseparable then, they lose touch as they grow older, only later to find each other again at a diner, a grocery store, and again at a protest. Seemingly at opposite ends of every problem, and at each other's throats each time they meet, the two women still cannot deny the deep bond their shared experience has forged between them. Another work of genius by this masterly writer, Recitatif keeps Twyla's and Roberta's races ambiguous throughout the story. Morrison herself described Recitatif, a story which will keep readers thinking and discussing for years to come, as "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." We know that one is white and one is Black, but which is which? And who is right about the race of the woman the girls tormented at the orphanage? A remarkable look into what keeps us together and what keeps us apart, and how perceptions are made tangible by reality, Recitatif is a gift to readers in these changing times.
Take My Hand by
Publication Date: 2022-04-12
Inspired by true events that rocked the nation, a searing and compassionate new novel about a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible injustice done to her patients, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend intends to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she hopes to help women shape their destinies, to make their own choices for their lives and bodies. But when her first week on the job takes her along a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, Civil is shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children--just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling the family's welfare benefits, that's reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica, and their family into her heart. Until one day she arrives at their door to learn the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them. Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace, and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten. Because history repeats what we don't remember. Inspired by true events and brimming with hope, Take My Hand is a stirring exploration of accountability and redemption.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by
Publication Date: 2013-03-19
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years--due largely to initial audiences' rejection of its strong black female protagonist--Hurston's classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.