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Color Purple -
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. . . . during the course of the novel, which begins in the early 1900's and ends in the mid-1940's, Celie frees herself from her husband's repressive control. The New York Times
Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Zora Neale Hurston
Initially published in 1937, this novel about a proud, independent black woman's quest for identity, a journey that takes her through three marriages and back to her roots, has been one of the most widely read and highly acclaimed novels in the canon of African-American literature.
- Toni Morrison
At the center of Toni Morrison's fifth novel, which earned her the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is an almost unspeakable act of horror and heroism: a woman brutally kills her infant daughter rather than allow her to be enslaved. The woman is Sethe, and the novel traces her journey from slavery to freedom during and immediately following the Civil War. Woven into this circular, mesmerizing narrative are the horrible truths of Sethe's past: the incredible cruelties she endured as a slave, and the hardships she suffered in her journey north to freedom. Just as Sethe finds the past too painful to remember, and the future just "a matter of keeping the past at bay," her story is almost too painful to read. Yet Morrison manages to imbue the wreckage of her characters' lives with compassion, humanity, and humor. Part ghost story, part history lesson, part folk tale, Beloved finds beauty in the unbearable, and lets us all see the enduring promise of hope that lies in anyone's future. Coming from Plume in April 1999, Toni Morrison's #1 New York Times bestseller
And This Too Shall Pass - E. Lynn Harris
In And This Too Shall Pass, E. Lynn Harris takes us into the locker rooms and newsrooms of Chicago, where four lives are about to intersect in romance and scandal. At the heart of the novel is the gay but celibate Zurich, a rookie quarterback for the Chicago Cougars whose trajectory for superstardom is interrupted by a sexual harassment suit by Mia, a female sportscaster with her own sights on fame. With his career in jeopardy, Zurich hires Tamela, a high-powered attorney, to defend him, while Sean, a gay sportswriter, covers the story, and ultimately helps Zurich do the right thing.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- Maya Angelou
achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood . . . have I found myself so moved . . . Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death".--James Baldwin.
Some Love, Some Pain, Some Time: Stories
- J. California Cooper
Employing her characteristic themes of romance, heartbreak, struggle, and faith, Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime is Cooper at her best. We meet Darlin, a self-proclaimed femme fatale who uses her wiles to try to find a husband; MLee, whose life seems to be coming to an end at the age of forty until she decides to set out and see if she can make a new life for herself; Kissy and Buddy, each of whom is trying and failing to find someone to fit them until they finally meet each other; and Aberdeen, whose daughter, Uniqua, shows her how to educate herself and move up in the world. These characters and others offer inspiration, laughter, instruction, and pure enjoyment in what is sure to be one of J. California Cooper's most popular collections of stories.
- Terry McMillan
Review From Thulani Davis - Voice Literary
Man - Ralph
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.
of Solomon -
In an effort to hide his southern working-class roots, Macon Dead, an upper-class northern black businessman, tries to insulate his family from the danger and despair of the rank-and-file blacks in his neighborhood. The plan leads his son, Milkman -- so nicknamed after his mother nursed him well past the proper age -- onto a path exactly opposite the one his father had hoped. Milkman is driven into the arms of a violent, lower-class woman, into a clandestine circle of blacks who repay white violence in kind, and into an awareness that he can fulfill his own potential by understanding the mistakes of his ancestors as they relate to his own.
- Richard Wright
Widely acclaimed as one of the finest books ever written on race and class division in America, this powerful novel reflects the forces of poverty, injustice, and hopelessness that continue to shape our society. Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny: by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection of the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country.
Pooquie and Little Bit are back in love and back to stirring up the hip-hop community and the rest of New York. But as these two strongly independent yet passionately linked men discover, the pursuit of happiness takes work to maintain. This is the seriously sexy, fiercely funny, black-on-black sequel to the bestseller B-Boy Blues.
When it was first produced in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for that season and hailed as a watershed in American drama. A pioneering work by an African-American playwright, the play was a radically new representation of black life. "A play that changed American theater forever".--The New York Times.
- J. California Cooper
In one of the best-loved volumes of her work, J. California Cooper tells exuberant tales full of wonder at the mystery of life and the hardness of fate. Awed, bedeviled, bemused, all of Cooper's characters are borne up by the sheer power of life itself.
- Eric Jerome Dickey
Sassy, comical, and true-to-life, SISTER, SISTER tells the tale of three young African-American women�perky wife Valerie, scheming social worker Inda, and broken-hearted flight attendant Chiquita�and how their lives are coming together, and apart, in Los Angeles. Fresh and in-your-face, this witty novel depicts a world where women sometimes have to alter their dreams, but never have to stop embracing the future.
Kindred - Octavia Butler
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back again and again to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana's ancestor. Yet each time the stays grow longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has even begun
Set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s, A Lesson Before Dying is an "enormously moving" ("Los Angeles Times") novel of one man condemned to die for a crime he did not commit and a young man who visits him in his cell. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting--and defying--the expected. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
From a fresh new voice with talent to burn comes this brash, bittersweet novel about a young black woman's coming of age. In the tradition of Donald Goines, James Baldwin, and E. Lynn Harris, Omar Tyree is destined to be a distinctive chronicler of his environment and his generation.
Fresh from the success of "Sister, Sister"--a "high-spirited celebration of black sisterhood" ("Publishers Weekly")--Eric Jerome Dickey offers a sexy, searing African-American novel of betrayal, love, and friendship in today's L.A.
Tumbling - Dianne Mckinney-Whetstone
In her debut novel, McKinney-Whetstone evokes the feel and rhythm of a close-knit African-American community. Set in South Philadelphia during the 1940s and 1950s, Tumbling tells the story of Herbie and Noon who, although they have never consummated their marriage, are blessed with daughters when, on two separate occasions, children are left on their doorstep.
Infused with the themes that are closest to women's hearts, Blessings presents Jackson's most absorbing, complex work yet. At the center of the novel are four vibrant women who are searching for happiness as they grapple with such difficult issues as female bonding, infertility, adoption, abortion, and child discipline.