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Favorite 100 Titles of the 20th Century

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In 2001 we completed the voting for “Our Own List” of our favorite 50 African American authors and our 100 favorite African American novels of the 20th century. 3,861 total votes were cast.

Needless to say this list is purely subjective, but it is based upon the opinions of thousands of visitors to the AALBC, who filled out an online form or send in a vote via email. We think you’ll find the results interesting and useful for identifying excellent writers and writers and novels. There is something for everyone to enjoy!

“…There were a number of reasons for the list being conceived, executed and compiled. The first was our outrage at the lack of our presence on the Modern Library’s Best Books of the Century list. Second, it gave me, a non-academic, an opportunity for my voice to be heard.” — Thumper

Also check out Thumper’s personal list of his top novel and authors of the 20th Century.

Click for more detail about The Color Purple by Alice Walker #1 – The Color Purple

by Alice Walker (9780156028356)
Mariner Books (May 28, 2003)
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Click for more detail about Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel by Zora Neale Hurston #2 – Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel

by Zora Neale Hurston (9780060838676)
HarperCollins (Jan 03, 2006)
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Click for more detail about Beloved by Toni Morrison #3 – Beloved

by Toni Morrison (9781400033416)
Penguin Random House (Jun 08, 2004)
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Click for more detail about And This Too Shall Pass: A Novel by E. Lynn Harris #4 – And This Too Shall Pass: A Novel

by E. Lynn Harris (9780385480314)
Penguin Random House (Feb 17, 1997)
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Click for more detail about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou #5 – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou (9780345514400)
Penguin Random House (Apr 21, 2009)
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Click for more detail about Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime: Stories by J. California Cooper #6 – Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime: Stories

by J. California Cooper (9780385467889)
Penguin Random House (Sep 01, 1996)
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Click for more detail about Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan #7 – Disappearing Acts

by Terry McMillan (9780451205636)
Penguin Random House  (Oct 01, 1966)
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Click for more detail about Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison #8 – Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison (9780679732761)
Penguin Random House (Mar 14, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison #9 – Song of Solomon

by Toni Morrison (9781400033423)
Penguin Random House (Jun 08, 2004)
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Click for more detail about Native Son  by Richard Wright #10 – Native Son

by Richard Wright (9780060837563)
HarperCollins (Aug 02, 2005)
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Click for more detail about 2nd Time Around (A B-Boy Blues Novel #2) by James Earl Hardy #11 – 2nd Time Around (A B-Boy Blues Novel #2)

by James Earl Hardy (9781555833725)
Alyson Books (Oct 01, 1996)
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Click for more detail about A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry #12 – A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry (9780679755333)
Penguin Random House (Nov 29, 2004)
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Click for more detail about Homemade Love by J. California Cooper #13 – Homemade Love

by J. California Cooper (9780312194659)
St. Martin’s Press (Oct 28, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Sister, Sister by Eric Jerome Dickey #14 – Sister, Sister

by Eric Jerome Dickey (9780451188021)
Penguin Random House  (Dec 01, 1997)
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Click for more detail about Kindred by Octavia Butler #15 – Kindred

by Octavia Butler (9780807083697)
Beacon Press (Feb 01, 2004)
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Click for more detail about A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines #16 – A Lesson Before Dying

by Ernest Gaines (9780375702709)
Penguin Random House (Sep 01, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #17 – Flyy Girl

by Omar Tyree (9780743218573)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Aug 07, 2001)
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Click for more detail about Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey #18 – Friends and Lovers

by Eric Jerome Dickey (9780451188038)
Penguin Random House  (Sep 01, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Tumbling: A Novel by Diane McKinney-Whetstone #19 – Tumbling: A Novel

by Diane McKinney-Whetstone (9780061792120)
HarperCollins (Jun 29, 2010)
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Click for more detail about Blessings: A Novel by Sheneska Jackson #20 – Blessings: A Novel

by Sheneska Jackson (9780684853123)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Jun 09, 1999)
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Click for more detail about Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan #21 – Waiting To Exhale

by Terry McMillan (9780670839803)
The Viking Press (May 28, 1992)
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Click for more detail about For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange #22 – For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf

by Ntozake Shange (9780684843261)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Sep 01, 1997)
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Click for more detail about A Little Yellow Dog: Featuring an Original Easy Rawlins Short Story #23 – A Little Yellow Dog: Featuring an Original Easy Rawlins Short Story "Gray-Eyed Death" (Easy Rawlins Mysteries)

by Walter Mosley (9780743451802)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Nov 01, 2002)
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Click for more detail about The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X, Alex Haley and Attallah Shabazz #24 – The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

by Malcolm X, Alex Haley and Attallah Shabazz (9780345350688)
Spears Publishing (Oct 28, 1987)
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Click for more detail about Invisible Life: A Novel by E. Lynn Harris #25 – Invisible Life: A Novel

by E. Lynn Harris (9780385469685)
Penguin Random House (Feb 15, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel by Alice Walker #26 – Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel

by Alice Walker (9781595583642)
The New Press (May 06, 2008)
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Click for more detail about Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man In America by Nathan McCall #27 – Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man In America

by Nathan McCall (9780679740704)
Penguin Random House (Jan 31, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Just As I Am: A Novel by E. Lynn Harris #28 – Just As I Am: A Novel

by E. Lynn Harris (9780385469708)
Penguin Random House (Feb 15, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Mama Day by Gloria Naylor #29 – Mama Day

by Gloria Naylor (9780679721819)
Penguin Random House (Apr 23, 1989)
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Click for more detail about The Wedding: A Novel by Dorothy West #30 – The Wedding: A Novel

by Dorothy West (9780385471442)
Penguin Random House (Jan 01, 1996)
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Click for more detail about Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe #31 – Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe (9780385474542)
Penguin Random House (Sep 01, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Breath, Eyes, Memory (Oprah’s Book Club) by Edwidge Danticat #32 – Breath, Eyes, Memory (Oprah’s Book Club)

by Edwidge Danticat (9780375705045)
Penguin Random House (May 31, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Li'l Mama's Rules by Sheneska Jackson #33 – Li’l Mama’s Rules

by Sheneska Jackson (9780684846132)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (May 06, 1998)
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Click for more detail about One Better by Rosalyn McMillan #34 – One Better

by Rosalyn McMillan (9780446605991)
Hachette Book Group (Oct 01, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Your Blues Ain't Like Mine: A Novel by Bebe Moore Campbell #35 – Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine: A Novel

by Bebe Moore Campbell (9780345401120)
Penguin Random House (Jun 27, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Devil In A Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Mysteries) by Walter Mosley #36 – Devil In A Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Mysteries)

by Walter Mosley (9780743451796)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Sep 17, 2002)
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Click for more detail about Sula by Toni Morrison #37 – Sula

by Toni Morrison (9781400033430)
Penguin Random House (Jun 08, 2004)
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Click for more detail about The Bluest Eye  by Toni Morrison #38 – The Bluest Eye

by Toni Morrison (9780307278449)
Penguin Random House (May 08, 2007)
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Click for more detail about A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines #39 – A Gathering of Old Men

by Ernest Gaines (9780679738909)
Penguin Random House (Jun 30, 1992)
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Click for more detail about My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due #40 – My Soul to Keep

by Tananarive Due (9780061053665)
HarperCollins (Apr 28, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley #41 – Roots: The Saga of an American Family

by Alex Haley (9781593154493)
Penguin Random House (May 22, 2007)
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Click for more detail about The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1995 by Nikki Giovanni #42 – The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1995

by Nikki Giovanni (9780688140472)
HarperCollins (Jan 11, 1996)
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Click for more detail about The Street: A Novel by Ann Petry #43 – The Street: A Novel

by Ann Petry (9780395901496)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Mar 28, 1999)
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Click for more detail about Cane (New Edition) by Jean Toomer #44 – Cane (New Edition)

by Jean Toomer (9780871402103)
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. (Jun 13, 2011)
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Click for more detail about How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan #45 – How Stella Got Her Groove Back

by Terry McMillan (9780451209146)
NAL (Jan 06, 2004)
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Click for more detail about Tar Baby by Toni Morrison #46 – Tar Baby

by Toni Morrison (9781400033447)
Penguin Random House (Jun 08, 2004)
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Click for more detail about The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois #47 – The Souls of Black Folk

by W.E.B. Du Bois (9780486280417)
Dover Publications (May 20, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Ugly Ways by Tina McElroy Ansa #48 – Ugly Ways

by Tina McElroy Ansa (9780156000772)
Mariner Books (Jan 17, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Another Country by James Baldwin #49 – Another Country

by James Baldwin (9780679744719)
Penguin Random House (Dec 01, 1992)
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Click for more detail about Black Gold by Anita Bunkley #50 – Black Gold

by Anita Bunkley (9780451179739)
Penguin Random House  (Feb 01, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Caught Up in the Rapture: A Novel by Sheneska Jackson #51 – Caught Up in the Rapture: A Novel

by Sheneska Jackson (9780684831534)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Jun 04, 1997)
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Click for more detail about Only Twice I've Wished for Heaven by Dawn Turner Trice #52 – Only Twice I’ve Wished for Heaven

by Dawn Turner Trice (9780385491235)
Penguin Random House (Feb 28, 1998)
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Click for more detail about The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou #53 – The Heart of a Woman

by Maya Angelou (9780812980325)
Penguin Random House (Apr 21, 2009)
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Click for more detail about A Do Right Man by Omar Tyree #54 – A Do Right Man

by Omar Tyree (9780684848037)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Oct 19, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin #55 – Go Tell It on the Mountain

by James Baldwin (9780375701870)
Penguin Random House (Sep 12, 2013)
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Click for more detail about The Between by Tananarive Due #56 – The Between

by Tananarive Due (9780060927264)
HarperCollins (Mar 27, 1996)
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Click for more detail about The Hand I Fan With by Tina McElroy Ansa #57 – The Hand I Fan With

by Tina McElroy Ansa (9780385476010)
Penguin Random House (Dec 29, 1997)
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Click for more detail about The Piano Lesson (1930s Century Cycle) by August Wilson #58 – The Piano Lesson (1930s Century Cycle)

by August Wilson (9780452265349)
Penguin Random House (Dec 01, 1990)
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Click for more detail about The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee #59 – The Spook Who Sat By The Door

by Sam Greenlee (9781930097278)
Lushena Books (Apr 01, 2002)
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Click for more detail about Big Girls Don't Cry by Connie Briscoe #60 – Big Girls Don’t Cry

by Connie Briscoe (9780345413628)
Penguin Random House (Jul 01, 1997)
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Click for more detail about Knowing by Rosalyn McMillan #61 – Knowing

by Rosalyn McMillan (9780446518666)
Hachette Book Group (Jan 22, 1996)
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Click for more detail about Paradise  by Toni Morrison #62 – Paradise

by Toni Morrison (9780804169882)
Penguin Random House (Mar 11, 2014)
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Click for more detail about The Best of Simple (American Century) by Langston Hughes #63 – The Best of Simple (American Century)

by Langston Hughes (9780374521332)
Hill and Wang (Sep 28, 1990)
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Click for more detail about The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker #64 – The Third Life of Grange Copeland

by Alice Walker (9780156028363)
Mariner Books (May 26, 2003)
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Click for more detail about Tryin' To Sleep In The Bed You Made by Virginia Deberry and Donna Grant #65 – Tryin’ To Sleep In The Bed You Made

by Virginia Deberry and Donna Grant (9780312383725)
St. Martin’s Press (Jan 08, 2008)
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Click for more detail about Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor #66 – Bailey’s Cafe

by Gloria Naylor (9780679748212)
Penguin Random House (Aug 31, 1993)
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Click for more detail about In Search of Satisfaction by J. California Cooper #67 – In Search of Satisfaction

by J. California Cooper (9780385467865)
Penguin Random House (Sep 01, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Just Above My Head by James Baldwin #68 – Just Above My Head

by James Baldwin (9780385334563)
Delta (Jun 13, 2000)
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Click for more detail about Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler #69 – Parable of the Sower

by Octavia Butler (9780446675505)
Hachette Book Group (Jan 01, 2000)
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Click for more detail about Tempest Rising: A Novel by Diane McKinney-Whetstone #70 – Tempest Rising: A Novel

by Diane McKinney-Whetstone (9780688166403)
HarperCollins (Jan 20, 1999)
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Click for more detail about The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin #71 – The Fire Next Time

by James Baldwin (9780679744726)
Penguin Random House (Dec 01, 1992)
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Click for more detail about The ISIS Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #72 – The ISIS Papers: The Keys to the Colors

by Frances Cress Welsing (9780883781043)
Third World Press (Dec 28, 2004)
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Click for more detail about Mama Black Widow by Iceberg Slim #73 – Mama Black Widow

by Iceberg Slim (9781936399192)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (May 07, 2013)
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Click for more detail about Miss Ophelia by Mary Burnett Smith #74 – Miss Ophelia

by Mary Burnett Smith (9780688163570)
HarperCollins (Sep 16, 1998)
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Click for more detail about The Wake of the Wind: A Novel by J. California Cooper #75 – The Wake of the Wind: A Novel

by J. California Cooper (9780385487054)
Penguin Random House (Dec 28, 1999)
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Click for more detail about Baby of the Family by Tina McElroy Ansa #76 – Baby of the Family

by Tina McElroy Ansa (9780156101509)
Mariner Books (May 31, 1991)
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Click for more detail about Billy by Albert French #77 – Billy

by Albert French (9780140179088)
Penguin Random House (Feb 01, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Black Betty (Mask Noir) by Walter Mosley #78 – Black Betty (Mask Noir)

by Walter Mosley (9781852423803)
Serpent’s Tail (Nov 15, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Manchild in the Promised Land  by Claude Brown #79 – Manchild in the Promised Land

by Claude Brown (9780451157416)
Penguin Random House (Oct 01, 1966)
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Click for more detail about Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories by Zora Neale Hurston #80 – Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories

by Zora Neale Hurston (9780940450837)
Library of America (Feb 01, 1995)
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Click for more detail about The Women of Brewster Place  by Gloria Naylor #81 – The Women of Brewster Place

by Gloria Naylor (9780140066906)
Penguin Random House (Jun 30, 1983)
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Click for more detail about Bessie: Revised and Expanded Edition by Chris Albertson #82 – Bessie: Revised and Expanded Edition

by Chris Albertson (9780300107562)
Yale University Press (Jun 10, 2005)
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Click for more detail about Black Boy by Richard Wright #83 – Black Boy

by Richard Wright (9780061130243)
HarperCollins (Mar 27, 2007)
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Click for more detail about Magic City: A Novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes #84 – Magic City: A Novel

by Jewell Parker Rhodes (9780060929077)
HarperCollins (Jun 23, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Scenes from a Sistah by Lolita Files #85 – Scenes from a Sistah

by Lolita Files (9780446674423)
Hachette Book Group (Jul 01, 1998)
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Click for more detail about The Color of Love by Sandra Kitt #86 – The Color of Love

by Sandra Kitt (9780451184276)
Penguin Random House  (Mar 01, 1995)
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Click for more detail about What A Woman’s Gotta Do by Evelyn Coleman #87 – What A Woman’s Gotta Do

by Evelyn Coleman (9780440235002)
Dell (Jul 13, 1999)
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Click for more detail about B-Boy Blues (A B-Boy Blues Novel #1) by James Earl Hardy #88 – B-Boy Blues (A B-Boy Blues Novel #1)

by James Earl Hardy (9781555832681)
Alyson Books (Jul 01, 1994)
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Click for more detail about Belly Song and Other Poems by Etheridge Knight #89 – Belly Song and Other Poems

by Etheridge Knight (9780910296885)
Broadside Press (Jun 01, 1973)
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Click for more detail about The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, 10th Anniversary Edition by James McBride #90 – The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, 10th Anniversary Edition

by James McBride (9781594481925)
Penguin Random House (Feb 07, 2006)
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Click for more detail about Corregidora by Gayl Jones #91 – Corregidora

by Gayl Jones (9780807063156)
Beacon Press (Feb 15, 1987)
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Click for more detail about Giovanni's Room  by James Baldwin #92 – Giovanni’s Room

by James Baldwin (9780345806567)
Penguin Random House (Sep 12, 2013)
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Click for more detail about I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots: A Novel by Susan Straight #93 – I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots: A Novel

by Susan Straight (9781497679986)
Open Road Integrated Media (Oct 21, 2014)
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Click for more detail about In Search of Our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker #94 – In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose

by Alice Walker (9780156028646)
Mariner Books (May 19, 2003)
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Click for more detail about Jazz by Toni Morrison #95 – Jazz

by Toni Morrison (9781400076215)
Penguin Random House (Jun 08, 2004)
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Click for more detail about Middle Passage by Charles Johnson #96 – Middle Passage

by Charles Johnson (9780684855882)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Jul 01, 1998)
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Click for more detail about Playing In The Dark: Whiteness And The Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison #97 – Playing In The Dark: Whiteness And The Literary Imagination

by Toni Morrison (9780679745426)
Penguin Random House (Jul 27, 1993)
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Click for more detail about Push: A Novel by Sapphire #98 – Push: A Novel

by Sapphire (9780679766759)
Penguin Random House (Apr 29, 1997)
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Click for more detail about The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson #99 – The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

by James Weldon Johnson (9780486285122)
Dover Publications (May 10, 1995)
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Click for more detail about Sounder by William H. Armstrong
#100 – Sounder

by William H. Armstrong (9780064400206)
HarperCollins (Dec 24, 2002)
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