African-American literature: My favorite reads

I dunno if I have ever mentioned it before – but I love African-American literature. For some inexplicable reason, I always feel drawn to their history, their daily struggles and the entire tapestry of their lives. The more I read, the more intrigued I am.

Disclaimer: This book list is not for people who turn to literature for sheer entertainment, or those who want to find an escape from life by reading something light, or happy, or plain fun. Because trust me, none of these books are light reads.


Perhaps the very first book I read in this genre was Roots: The Saga of an American family, way back during my Grads. It was then that the bug first bit me.



Author: Alex Haley
A real-life saga chronicling the lives of an African family. This epic novel is a narrative of the author who traces his lineage back to the 18th century, when one of his ancestors – a teenage boy was captured, forced into slavery and transported to America. A book that gives you so much to think about. For those of you who’ve read Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup or watched the Academy Award winning movie adaptation (and liked it) I could not recommend Roots more.

Over the next few years, I would invariably find myself picking up novels with a touch of African-American history. Some of my other favorites have been:

The Help

The help

Author: Kathryn Stockett
Goodreads rating: 4.46/5
Perhaps the most well-known book in this genre, popularised by the movie of the same name, I really enjoyed reading this book. While not as hard-hitting as the others I’ve read, it paints a colorful picture of what it’s like to be a colored maid in racially diverged Mississippi in the 1960s.

Perfect Peace

perfect peace

Author: Daniel Black
Goodreads rating: 4.23/5
I don’t think I need to say anything more than this description on Goodreads –
The heartbreaking portrait of a large, rural southern family’s attempt to grapple with their mother’s desperate decision to make her newborn son into the daughter she will never have.”
Yes, that’s what the story’s about. This book will make you think about sexuality, parenting and gender biases in ways nothing ever will. Read. It.

The Color Purple


Author: Alice Walker
Goodreads rating: 4.18/5
Another very popular book (and also adapted into a movie by the same name), this one is not for the faint-hearted. A devastating narrative of two sisters and their tribulations in life, through heart-rending domestic violence, unhealthy marriages and racial bias.

Rush Home Road

rush home road

Author: Lori Lansens
Goodreads rating: 4.14/5
An unusual take on life in a trailer park in Canada in the 1970s – a 70-year-old Addy Shadd becomes the unplanned guardian of a 5-year-old Sharla and is reminded of her childhood. I particularly enjoyed this one as it is very different from the others.

The Bluest Eye


Author: Toni Morrison
Goodreads rating: 4.0/5
11 year old Pecola prays that her eyes turn blue – so she can be as pretty as all the other blue-eyed American children around her. This books touches upon sensitive issues of society’s obsession with beauty standards in a way that leaves you thinking. A thought-provoking yet disturbing novel.

Also on my Reading List

I am yet to read the following, which are high on my To-read list (if only I had more time! Aargh!)

Fifth Born

fifth born

Author: Zelda Lockhart 
Goodreads rating: 4.23/5
A tragic tale of a 3-year old child who first loses her grandmother, and then her innocence to sexual abuse, and finally her peace of mind when she witnesses her father killing one of her siblings.

The Darkest Child

darkest child

Author: Delores Phillips
Goodreads rating: 4.36/5
13-year old Tangy Mae is darkest among her 10 siblings and hence, considered to be the “ugliest” in her mother’s eyes. Yet, she’s also the brightest. The story tlaks about how she copes with her mother’s controlling ways and manages to find her own path in life.

Do you like African-American literature as well?
Please let me know what I can add to my reading list.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Adi Sathe says:

    Hey, thanks for opening up this fabulous story box for me. I have not read anything from this lot. 😊 I will definitely pick these up.


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