• Their Eyes Were Watching God
    by Zora Neale Hurston
    An American classic, this book is a luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern black woman in the 1930s whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to seventy years.
  • The Color Purple
    by Alice Walker
    “The Color Purple” is foremost the story of Celie, a poor, barely literate Southern black woman who struggles to escape the brutality and degradation of her treatment by men. The tale is told primarily through her own letters, which, out of isolation and despair, she initially addresses to God.
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
    by Ernest J. Gaines
    Miss Jane Pittman is 110 when she recalls her childhood and the arrival of both Union and Confederate troops on the plantation where she lived.
  • Sula
    by Toni Morrison
    At the heart of Sula is a bond between two women, a friendship whose intensity first sustains, then injures. Sula and Nel are both black, both smart, and both poor. Through their girlhood years, they share everything. All this changes when Sula gets out of the Bottom, the hilltop neighborhood where there hides a fierce resentment at the invisible line that cannot be overstepped.
  • Incognegro
    by Mat Johnson; art by Warren Pleece; lettered by Clem Robins
    The early 20th Century: an era when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South. To most of the press, this epidemic of racial murder wan’t even news. But a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were light-skinned African-American men who could ‘pass’ for white. They called this dangerous assignment ‘going incognegro.’
  • Red River
    by Lalita Tademy
    The intertwining stories of two Louisiana families–three generations of African-American men–and their struggles to make a place for themselves in a country deeply divided in the aftermath of the Civil War and beyond.
  • Fever Season
    by Barbara Hambly
    After black free man of color Benjamin January returns to New Orleans to end a 16-year absence, he must treat victims of the cholera epidemic, but when he realizes that other free blacks are disappearing, he investigates.
  • Wake of the Wind
    by J. California Cooper
    When the slaves’ emancipation reaches Texas, a Black woman named Lifee and her family rely on their extraordinary resilience and ingenuity to face the reverberations of slavery and stake out a farm and a home of their own.
  • The Bluest Eye
    by Toni Morrison
    This is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove — a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others — who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

Compiled by Forbes Library Staff | Summaries from ContentCafe, NoveList, Wikipedia, Amazon.com | March 2011