Black literature allows for the expression of our identity, culture and values, which have been silenced for the longest time in history. In recent times, especially with the rise of the black lives matter movement, there has been a rise in interest in black culture, including books.
If you want to explore black literature, here are 10 black male authors to read in 2023.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, James Baldwin, James McBride, Jericho Brown, Ishmael Reed, Ralph Ellison, Langstone Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Alex Haley and Booker T Washington.
1. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
Ngugi Wa Thiongo is known for his literary prowess. He’s published books in different genres Novels, Short Story Collections, Plays and Memoirs.
One of his most famous books The River Between is a classic in Kenya as several generations of students read it.
He’s published other books like:
- A Grain of Wheat
- Weep Not Child
- Decolonising The Mind
- Devil On The Cross.
He’s won numerous awards for his work, including his first The East Africa Novel Prize and the most recent PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
2. James Baldwin
James wrote novels, short stories, and poems and did collaborative works. His works focused on racial relations in America. He published his first novel ‘ Go Tell It On The Mountain’ in 1953.
Baldwin went on and wrote more books like:
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- The American Corner
- The Devil Finds Work
- The Cross of Redemption
- No Name In The Street
3. James McBride
The memoir he published in 1996 made him a household name in the world of publishing. It became a New York bestseller and has been used in schools and universities in the US.
From then, he penned his first novel Miracle of St. Anna in 2008 and it was so good that it was turned into a film.
James McBrides other books include The Good Lord Bird, Five Carrrot Soul and The Deacon King among others.
Apart from books, he’s written for brand-name publications like People Magazine and The Washington Post.
4. Jericho Brown
Jericho is an award-winning black male author who focuses on writing poetry. He has published several books which have received high recognition.
5. Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed has over 30 books to his name. He writes in different genres including poetry, prose, plays and essays and focuses on race and tradition.
Some of his books include Conjure, Chattanooga, A Secretary To The Spirits and many more.
Ishmael has won some of the best accolades in the industry including:
- John Oliver Killens Lifetime Achievement Award
- The Barbary Coast Award
- The L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award.
6. Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison wrote several books during his career during which he also worked as an attorney and lecturer. His first novel ‘Invisible Man’ came in 1952. He went on and published more books including
- Flying Home and Other Stories,
- Shadow And Act
- The Black Ball
7. Langstone Hughes
Hughes books focused on the lives of Black people in America. Before he published his first novel, he worked on several collections. In 1962, he published his first collection of poetry Weary Blues and followed up with others like Not Without Laughter, Montage Of A Dream Deferred and I Continued To Dream.
8. Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka published essays, poets, fiction, and drama. He wrote about black art which he partly captured in his book Blues People: Negro Music in White America published in 1963.
Other books that he worked on include
- Black Fire
- The Essence of Reparations
9. Alex Haley
Alex Haley was a coast guard before he began writing. His writing career took off quite rapidly after he wrote his book Roots in which he traced his family from Gambia.
This book won him the Pulitzer Prize and was later turned into a television show. After that, he wrote
- The Autobiography of Malcom X
- Mama Flora’s Family
- The Man Who Traced America
10. Booker T Washington
Booker T was a prominent leader in the Black community who stood up against slavery and racial discrimination. Before he published one of his most famous books Up From Slavery, he wrote The Story Of My Life And Work (1900).
Other books he wrote include:
- Three Negro Classics
- Character Building
- The Negro Problem
The Nigerian novelist was a stalwart of African literature. His book Things Fall Apart is one of the most-read African books. His writing focused on the effects of British colonial rule on Nigeria’s traditions and culture.
Some of his notable works include:
Achebe won a lot of accolades for his works but has not been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for literature rubbed Nigerians the wrong way. When asked about it, Achebe said that the Nobel Peace Prize is not meant for Africans but for Europeans. He wasn’t salty about the whole affair.
Have you read any of these books?
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