These 10 books written by Black authors conjure a strong sense of place, celebrate Black voices, and help readers better understand the Black experience. You’ll travel across countries, continents, and time—and expand your worldview in the process.
1. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Winner of the Booker Prize, Girl, Woman, Other captures the complexities of what it means to be a Black woman in modern-day Britain, while masterfully peeling back the curtain on Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.
London-based, Anglo-Nigerian writer Bernardine Evaristo is the author of eight books—ranging in genre from poetry to short story to drama to criticism. She is the winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.
2. Love in Color by Bolu Babalola
Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Bolu Babalola also reimagines Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and more, in this series of short stories. Love in Color is a celebration of romance, filled with micro-stories that travel across perspectives, continents, and genres.
Bolu Babalola is a British author, scriptwriter, and journalist of Nigerian heritage. Her debut novel, Love in Color, is a Sunday Times bestseller.
3. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
Winner of the 2019 National Book Award, Sarah M. Broom’s memoir, The Yellow House, details the story of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of New Orleans.
A native New Orleanian, Broom is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Oxford American, and O, The Oprah Magazine among others. She was awarded a Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant in 2016 and was a finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction in 2011. She has also been awarded fellowships at Djerassi Resident Artists Program and The MacDowell Colony. She won the National Book Award in 2019.
4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half presents a multi-generational family saga, featuring two identical sisters born in the Jim Crow-era South. Bennett explores race and identity in America as she details the sisters’ divergent fates when one sister decides to pass for white.
Bennett is the author of the New York Times-bestselling novel The Mothers; a finalist for the NBCC John Leonard Prize for the best first book, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award; and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree.
5. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer follows two women pushing the boundaries of sisterhood—and blurring the lines of morality.
Braithwaite is a freelance writer and editor. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top-ten spoken-word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam, and in 2016 she was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She currently lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
6. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Inspired by true events, Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel, American Spy, is the story of FBI agent Marie Mitchell, a young Black woman in an old boys’ club. Bored with pushing papers, she joins a task force aimed at undermining the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso—a decision that will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.
Wilkinson earned an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University, and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a 2013 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellow, and has also received support from the MacDowell Colony and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
7. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
Featuring four generations of characters grappling with sexuality, misogyny, hypocrisy—and who they want to be in the world—The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the multifaceted, contemporary lives of Black women in Appalachia.
Philyaw’s writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, McSweeney’s, the Rumpus, Brevity, TueNight, and elsewhere. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, she currently lives in Pittsburgh with her daughters.
8. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Roy and Celestial, a young Black couple living in the New South, are suddenly thrust into a life-altering situation: Roy’s arrest and subsequent prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. An American Marriage details the hardships the couple face while Roy is incarcerated—and the decisions they must contend with upon his release.
Jones is a New York Times best-selling author of four novels, including An American Marriage, Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. A winner of numerous literary awards, she is a professor of creative writing at Emory University.
9. Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood
Following in the footsteps of Black artists and authors such as James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, Eden Daniels leaves her home in the American South to follow her dream of achieving artistic freedom in the City of Light. Black Girl in Paris is an essential read for the Francophile, aspiring writer, and anyone in between.
Youngblood is the author of novels, plays, essays, and poetry. Her work has appeared in Oprah, Essence, Black Book, and Good Housekeeping magazines. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Pushcart Prize for fiction, a Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, several NAACP Theater Awards, an Astraea Writers’ Award for fiction and a New York Foundation for the Arts, Sustained Achievement Award. Her short stories have been performed at Symphony Space and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts.
10. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
13 children. Five decades. The Turner House illuminates the rise and fall of the Turner family and their American Dream—all against the backdrop of the Motor City.
Flournoy is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Southern California. She has taught writing at various universities and has worked for the D.C. Public Library. She was raised in Southern California by a mother from Los Angeles and a father from Detroit. She was a National Book Award finalist.