14 Books Published by Library of America on AALBC — Book Cover Collage

Click for more detail about The Man Who Cried I Am (2023) by John A. Williams The Man Who Cried I Am (2023)

by John A. Williams
Library of America (Nov 07, 2023)
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Rediscover the sensational 1967 literary thriller that captures the bitter struggles of postwar Black intellectuals and artists. With a foreword by Ishmael Reed and a new introduction by Merve Emre about how this explosive novel laid bare America’s racial fault lines, The Man Who Cried I Am takes readers on a gripping journey.

Max Reddick, a novelist, journalist, and presidential speechwriter, has spent his career grappling with the challenges of race in America. Now facing a terminal illness, he embarks on a final trip to Europe to settle old debts and attend the funeral of his friend and mentor, Harry Ames. In Amsterdam, Max uncovers secret government documents outlining a plan called "King Alfred" that aims to suppress racial unrest. As Max realizes Harry has been assassinated, he must risk everything to deliver the documents to the one person who can make a difference.

Published in 1967, The Man Who Cried I Am explores a range of experiences rarely depicted in American fiction. From the life of a Black GI to the turmoil of postcolonial Africa, and from an insider’s perspective on Washington politics during the era of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement to fictionalized portrayals of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, John A. Williams weaves a complex and powerful narrative.

This long-overlooked masterpiece challenges the boundaries between fiction and reality. In her introduction, Merve Emre delves into the novel’s provocative marketing campaign that caused confusion and led to an FBI investigation. This deluxe paperback edition also features a new foreword by novelist Ishmael Reed, making it a must-read for those seeking a profound and thought-provoking literary experience.

"It is a blockbuster, a hydrogen bomb … . This is a book white people are not ready to read yet, neither are most black people who read. But [it] is the milestone produced since Native Son. Besides which, and where I should begin, it is a damn beautifully written book." —Chester Himes

"Magnificent … obviously in the Baldwin and Ellison class." —John Fowles

"If The Man Who Cried I Am were a painting it would be done by Brueghel or Bosch. The madness and the dance is never-ending display of humanity trying to creep past inevitable Fate." —Walter Mosely

Click for more detail about Virginia Hamilton: Five Novels by Virginia Hamilton Virginia Hamilton: Five Novels

by Virginia Hamilton
Library of America (Sep 14, 2021)
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Rediscover America’s most honored writer of children’s literature in this deluxe collector’s edition of her finest work: five classic novels about African American young people confronting the world and its many challenges

Sometimes called the Toni Morrison of children’s literature (The Crisis), Virginia Hamilton wove Black folktales and narratives of African American life and history into her fiction, a body of work she collectively described as liberation literature. Library of America now presents five of her most beloved novels together in one volume for the first time.

In the female coming-of-age story Zeely (1967), Hamilton’s first novel, Geeder Perry and her brother, Toeboy, go to their uncle’s farm for the summer and encounter a six-and-a-half-foot-tall Watusi queen and a mysterious night traveler.Inthe Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning The House of Dies Drear (1968), Thomas Small and his family move to the great and forbidding House of Dies Drear, once a waystation on the Underground Railroad. Can they unlock the house’s secrets before it’s too late? The Planet of Junior Brown(1971), a National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor Book, tells the story of a three-hundred-pound musical prodigy who plays a piano with no sound while his homeless friend draws on all his wit and New York City resources to save him. In M.C. Higgins, the Great(1974), the first book ever to win the John Newbery Medal, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the National Book Award, Mayo Cornelius Higgins, called M.C., sits atop a forty-foot pole on the side of Sarah’s Mountain and dreams of escape. But poised above his family’s home is a massive spoil heap from strip-mining that could come crashing down at any moment. Can he rescue his family and save his own future? Must he choose? Confronting such issues as child abuse, single-parent families, and the death of a young person, Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush (1982) novel turns on the appearances and disappearances of a ghost, Brother Rush. It won the Boston Globe-Horn Book and Coretta Scott King awards and was a Newbery Honor Book. Rounding out the volume are a selection of essays and speeches about the novels, including Hamilton’s Newbery acceptance speech for M. C. Higgins, the Great.

Click for more detail about The Man Who Lived Underground by Richard Wright The Man Who Lived Underground

by Richard Wright
Library of America (Apr 20, 2021)
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A major literary event: an explosive, previously unpublished novel from the 1940s by the legendary author of Native Son and Black Boy

Fred Daniels, a Black man, is picked up by the police after a brutal double murder and tortured until he confesses to a crime he did not commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from custody and flees into the city’s sewer system.

This is the devastating premise of this scorching novel, a masterpiece that Richard Wright was unable to publish in his lifetime. Written between his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945), at the height of his creative powers, it would eventually see publication only in drastically condensed and truncated form in the posthumous short story collection Eight Men (1961).

Now, for the first time, by special arrangement with the author’s estate, the full text of this incendiary novel about race and violence in America, the work that meant more to Wright than any other (“I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration”), is published in the form that he intended, complete with his companion essay, “Memories of My Grandmother.” Malcolm Wright, the author’s grandson, contributes an afterword.

Click for more detail about Octavia E. Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected Stories (Loa #338) by Octavia Butler, Gerry Canavan (Editor), and Nisi Shawl (Editor) Octavia E. Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected Stories (Loa #338)

by Octavia Butler, Gerry Canavan (Editor), and Nisi Shawl (Editor)
Library of America (Jan 19, 2021)
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The definitive edition of the complete works of the “grand dame” of American science fiction begins with this volume gathering two novels and her collected stories

An original and eerily prophetic writer, Octavia E. Butler used the conventions of science fiction to explore the dangerous legacy of racism in America in harrowingly personal terms. She broke new ground with books that featured complex Black female protagonists—“I wrote myself in,” she would later recall—establishing herself as one of the pioneers of the Afrofuturist aesthetic. In 1995 she became the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, in recognition of her achievement in creating new aspirations for the genre and for American literature.

This first volume in the Library of America edition of Butler’s collected works opens with her masterpiece, Kindred, one of the landmark American novels of the last half-century. Its heroine, Dana, a Black woman, is pulled back and forth between the present and the pre–Civil War past, where she fnds herself enslaved on the plantation of a white ancestor whose life she must save to preserve her own. In Fledgling, an amnesiac discovers that she is a vampire, with a difference: she is a new, experimental birth with brown skin, giving her the fearful ability to go out in sunlight. Rounding out the volume are eight short stories and five essays—including two never before collected, plus a newly researched chronology of Butler’s life and career and helpful explanatory notes prepared by scholar Gerry Canavan. Butler’s friend, the writer, and editor Nisi Shawl, provides an introduction.

Click for more detail about African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song by Kevin Young African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song

by Kevin Young
Library of America (Oct 20, 2020)
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A Library of America Anthology

A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present.

Across a turbulent history, from such vital centers as Harlem, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, Black poets created a rich and multifaceted tradition that has been both a reckoning with American realities and an imaginative response to them. Capturing the power and beauty of this diverse tradition in a single indispensable volume, African American Poetry reveals as never before its centrality and its challenge to American poetry and culture.

One of the great American art forms, African American poetry encompasses many kinds of verse: formal, experimental, vernacular, lyric, and protest. The anthology opens with moving testaments to the power of poetry as a means of self-assertion, as enslaved people like Phillis Wheatley and George Moses Horton and activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper voice their passionate resistance to slavery. Young’s fresh, revelatory presentation of the Harlem Renaissance reexamines the achievements of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen alongside works by lesser-known poets such as Gwendolyn B. Bennett and Mae V. Cowdery. The later flowering of the still influential Black Arts Movement is represented here with breadth and originality, including many long out-of-print or hard-to-find poems.

Here are all the significant movements and currents: the nineteenth-century Francophone poets known as Les Cenelles, the Chicago Renaissance that flourished around Gwendolyn Brooks, the early 1960s Umbra group, and the more recent work of writers affiliated with Cave Canem and the Dark Room Collective. Here too are poems of singular, hard-to-classify figures: the enslaved potter David Drake, the allusive modernist Melvin B. Tolson, the Cleveland-based experimentalist Russell Atkins. This Library of America volume also features biographies of each poet and notes that illuminate cultural references and allusions to historical events.

Click for more detail about Richard Wright: The Library of America Unexpurgated  (Boxed Set) by Richard Wright Richard Wright: The Library of America Unexpurgated (Boxed Set)

by Richard Wright
Library of America (Jan 29, 2019)
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For the first time in a deluxe boxed set, the definitive edition of Richard Wright’s landmark works in the form in which he intended them to be read.

Here, in authoritative texts based on the author’s original typescripts and proofs, is the Library of America’s acclaimed edition of Richard Wright’s major works.

Wright’s first novel, Lawd Today!, published posthumously in 1963 and here presented for the first time in its original form, interweaves news bulletins, songs, exuberant wordplay, and scenes of confrontation and celebration into a kaleidoscopic chronicle of the events of one day in the life of a black Chicago postal worker. Uncle Tom’s Children first brought Wright to national attention. The characters in these five stories struggle to survive the cruelty of racism in the South, as Wright asks "what quality of will must a Negro possess to live and die with dignity in a country that denied his humanity."

Wright’s masterpiece, Native Son, exploded on the American literary scene in 1940. The story of Bigger Thomas, a young black man living in the raw, noisy, crowded slums of Chicago’s South Side, captured the hopes and yearnings, the pain and rage of black Americans with an unprecedented intensity and vividness. The text printed in this volume restores the changes and cuts—including the replacement of an entire scene—that Wright was forced to make by book club editors who feared offending their readers.

Wright’s wrenching memoir Black Boy, an eloquent account of his struggle to escape a life of poverty, ignorance and fear in his native South, was an immediate bestseller when it appeared in 1945. But Wright’s complete autobiography, published for the first time in this volume as Black Boy (American Hunger), is a far more complex and probing work, chronicaling his encounter with racism in the North, his apprenticeship as a writer, and his disillusionment with the Communist Party. Wright’s 1953 novel The Outsider appears here in a text that restores the many stylistic changes and long cuts made by his editors without his knowledge. When Cross Damon is mistakenly believed to have died in a subway accident, he seizes the opportunity to invent a new life for himself. The text here, based on Wright’s final, corrected typescript, casts new light on his development of the style he called "poetic realism."

Boxed set contains Richard Wright: Early Works, 936 pp., and Richard Wright: Later Works, 887 pp., volumes #55 and #56 in the Library of America series.

Click for more detail about Albert Murray: Collected Novels & Poems: Train Whistle Guitar / The Spyglass Tree / The Seven League Boots / The Magic Keys/ Poems (The Library of America) by Albert Murray Albert Murray: Collected Novels & Poems: Train Whistle Guitar / The Spyglass Tree / The Seven League Boots / The Magic Keys/ Poems (The Library of America)

by Albert Murray
Library of America (Jan 30, 2018)
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Complete in one volume for the first time, the joyous, jazz-saturated fiction of one of our foremost African American writers, including the four-novel Scooter sequence

One of the leading cultural critics of his generation, Albert Murray was also the author of an extraordinary quartet of semi-autobiographical novels, vivid impressionistic portraits of black life in the Deep South in the 1920s and ’30s and in prewar New York City. Train Whistle Guitar (1974) introduces Murray’s recurring narrator and protagonist, Scooter, a "Southern jackrabbit raised in a briarpatch" too nimble ever to receive a scratch. Scooter’s education in books, music, and the blue-steel bent-note blues-ballad realities of American life continues in The Spyglass Tree (1991), Murray’s "Portrait of the Artist as a Tuskegee Undergraduate." The Seven League Boots (1996) follows Scooter as he becomes a bass player in a touring band not unlike Duke Ellington’s, and The Magic Keys (2005), in which Scooter at last finds his true vocation as a writer in Greenwich Village, is an elegaic reverie on an artist’s life. Editors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Paul Devlin round out the volume with a selection of Murray’s remarkable poems, including 11 unpublished pieces from his notebooks, and two rare examples of his work as a short story writer.

Click for more detail about Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs by Albert Murray Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs

by Albert Murray
Library of America (Oct 18, 2016)
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In his 1970 classic The Omni-Americans, Albert Murray (1916€“2013) took aim at protest writers and social scientists who accentuated the pathology of race in American life. Against narratives of marginalization and victimhood, Murray argued that black art and culture, particularly jazz and blues, stand at the very headwaters of the American mainstream, and that much of what is best in American art embodies the blues-hero tradition  a heritage of grace, wit, and inspired improvisation in the face of adversity. Murray went on to refine these ideas in The Blue Devils of Nada and From the Briarpatch File, and all three landmark collections of essays are gathered here for the first time, together with Murray’s memoir South to a Very Old Place, his brilliant lecture series The Hero and the Blues, his masterpiece of jazz criticism Stomping the Blues, and eight previously uncollected pieces.

Click for more detail about Countee Cullen: Collected Poems by Countee Cullen Countee Cullen: Collected Poems

by Countee Cullen
Library of America (Mar 21, 2013)
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A major and sometimes controversial figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen fused a mastery of the formal lyric with a passionate engagement with themes social, religious, racial, and personal in such books as Color, Copper Sun, and The Black Christ. Certain of his poems ”Heritage, Yet Do I Marvel” are widely celebrated, but much of Cullen’s work remains to be discovered. This volume restores to print a body of work of singular intensity and beauty.

This is volume #32 in The Library of America’s American Poets Project series.

Click for more detail about James Weldon Johnson: Writings by James Weldon Johnson James Weldon Johnson: Writings

by James Weldon Johnson
Library of America (Jan 05, 2004)
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"The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man" (1912), James Weldon Johnson’s first book and the first modernist novel written by an African American, is a groundbreaking and subtle account of racial passing, initially published as an anonymous memoir. Its veracity?many believed it to be a genuine autobiography?has made it one of the undisputed masterpieces of African American literature and established Johnson in the African American literary vanguard of the first half of the twentieth century. He was also one of the central figures of the civil-rights struggle of his era, a tireless activist and longtime leader of the NAACP. Until now, however, his innovative and fascinating writings have never been gathered in a one-volume edition. Johnson’s complex career spanned the worlds of diplomacy (as a U.S. consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua), politics (as secretary of the NAACP), journalism (as the founder of one newspaper and longtime editor of another), and musical theater (as lyricist for the Broadway song-writing team of Cole and Johnson Brothers). "Writings" presents a generous array of Johnson’s essays which, with the early work of W.E.B. Du Bois, established the foundation of twentieth- century African American literary criticism; a selection of his topical editorials from the "New York Age"; and an offering of his poems and lyrics, including "God’s Trombones"?a brilliant verse homage to African American preaching?vaudeville songs, protest poems, and perhaps Johnson’s most famous work, ?Lift Every Voice and Sing, ? a stirring hymn often called the ?Negro National Anthem.?

Click for more detail about Reporting Civil Rights, Part One: American Journalism 1941-1963 by David Garrow, Clayborne Carson, Bill Kovach, and Carol Polsgrove (editors) Reporting Civil Rights, Part One: American Journalism 1941-1963

by David Garrow, Clayborne Carson, Bill Kovach, and Carol Polsgrove (editors)
Library of America (Jan 06, 2003)
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From A. Philip Randolph’s defiant call in 1941 for African Americans to march on Washington to Alice Walker in 1973, Reporting Civil Rights presents firsthand accounts of the revolutionary events that overthrew segregation in the United States. This two-volume anthology brings together for the first time nearly 200 newspaper and magazine reports and book excerpts, and features 151 writers, including James Baldwin, Robert Penn Warren, David Halberstam, Lillian Smith, Gordon Parks, Murray Kempton, Ted Poston, Claude Sitton, and Anne Moody. A newly researched chronology of the movement, a 32-page insert of rare journalist photographs, and original biographical profiles are included in each volume Roi Ottley and Sterling Brown record African American anger during World War II; Carl Rowan examines school segregation; Dan Wakefield and William Bradford Huie describe Emmett Till’s savage murder; and Ted Poston provides a fascinating early portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. In the early 1960s, John Steinbeck witnesses the intense hatred of anti-integration protesters in New Orleans; Charlayne Hunter recounts the hostility she faced at the University of Georgia; Raymond Coffey records the determination of jailed children in Birmingham; Russell Baker and Michael Thelwell cover the March on Washington; John Hersey and Alice Lake witness fear and bravery in Mississippi, while James Baldwin and Norman Podhoretz explore northern race relations. Singly or together, Reporting Civil Rights captures firsthand the impassioned struggle for freedom and equality that transformed America.

Click for more detail about James Baldwin: Collected Essays (Loa #98): Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds by James Baldwin and Toni Morrison (editor) James Baldwin: Collected Essays (Loa #98): Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds

by James Baldwin and Toni Morrison (editor)
Library of America (Feb 01, 1998)
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James Baldwin was a uniquely prophetic voice in American letters. His brilliant and provocative essays made him the literary voice of the Civil Rights Era, and they continue to speak with powerful urgency to us today, whether in the swirling debate over the Black Lives Matter movement or in the words of Raoul Peck’s documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” Edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Library of America’s Collected Essays is the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin’s nonfiction ever published.

With burning passion and jabbing, epigrammatic wit, Baldwin fearlessly articulated issues of race and democracy and American identity in such famous essays as “The Harlem Ghetto,” “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” “Many Thousands Gone,” and “Stranger in the Village.” Here are the complete texts of his early landmark collections, Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Nobody Knows My Name (1961), which established him as an essential intellectual voice of his time, fusing in unique fashion the personal, the literary, and the political. “One writes,” he stated, “out of one thing only—one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give.” With singular eloquence and unblinking sharpness of observation he lived up to his credo: “I want to be an honest man and a good writer.”

The classic The Fire Next Time (1963), perhaps the most influential of his writings, is his most penetrating analysis of America’s racial divide and an impassioned call to “end the racial nightmare…and change the history of the world.” The later volumes No Name in the Street (1972) and The Devil Finds Work (1976) chart his continuing response to the social and political turbulence of his era and include his remarkable works of film criticism. A further 36 essays—nine of them previously uncollected—include some of Baldwin’s earliest published writings, as well as revealing later insights into the language of Shakespeare, the poetry of Langston Hughes, and the music of Earl Hines.

Click for more detail about Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories by Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories

by Zora Neale Hurston
Library of America (Feb 01, 1995)
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When she died in obscurity in 1960, all her books were out of print. Now, Zora Neale Hurston is recognized as one of the most important and influential modern American writers. This volume, with its companion, "Zora Neale Hurston: Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings," brings together for the first time all of Hurston’s best works in one authoritative set. It features the acclaimed 1937 novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God," a lyrical masterpiece about a woman’s struggle for love and independence. "Jonah’s Gourd Vine," based on the story of Hurston’s parents, details the rise and fall of a preacher torn between spirit and flesh. "Moses, Man of the Mountain" is a high-spirited retelling of the Exodus story in black vernacular. "Seraph on the Suwanee" portrays the passionate clash between a poor southern "cracker" and her willful husband. A selection of short stories further displays Hurston’s unique fusion of folk traditions and literary modernism—comic, ironic, and soaringly poetic.

Click for more detail about W.E.B. Du Bois: Writings (Loa #34): The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade / The Souls of Black Folk / Dusk of Dawn / Essays by W.E.B. Du Bois and Nathan Huggins (editor) W.E.B. Du Bois: Writings (Loa #34): The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade / The Souls of Black Folk / Dusk of Dawn / Essays

by W.E.B. Du Bois and Nathan Huggins (editor)
Library of America (Jan 15, 1987)
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Historian, sociologist, novelist, editor, and political activist, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was the most gifted and influential black intellectual of his time. This Library of America volume presents his essential writings, covering the full span of a restless life dedicated to the struggle for racial justice.

The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States 1638–1870 (1896), his first book, renders a dispassionate account of how, despite ethical and political opposition, Americans tolerated the traffic in human beings until a bloody civil war taught them the disastrous consequences of moral cowardice.

The Souls of Black Folk (1903), a collection of beautifully written essays, narrates the cruelties of racism and celebrates the strength and pride of black America. By turns lyrical, historical, and autobiographical, Du Bois pays tribute to black music and religion, explores the remarkable history of the Reconstruction Freedman’s Bureau, assesses the career of Booker T. Washington, and remembers the death of his infant son.

Dusk of Dawn (1940) was described by Du Bois as an attempt to elucidate the “race problem” in terms of his own experience. It describes his boyhood in western Massachusetts, his years at Fisk and Harvard universities, his study and travel abroad, his role in founding the NAACP and his long association with it, and his emerging Pan-African consciousness. He called this autobiography his response to an “environing world” that “guided, embittered, illuminated and enshrouded my life.”

Du Bois’s influential essays and speeches span the period from 1890 to 1958. They record his evolving positions on the issues that dominated his long, active life: education in a segregated society; black history, art, literature, and culture; the controversial career of Marcus Garvey; the fate of black soldiers in the First World War; the appeal of communism to frustrated black Americans; his trial and acquittal during the McCarthy era; and the elusive promise of an African homeland.

The editorials and articles from The Crisis (1910–1934) belong to the period of Du Bois’s greatest influence. During his editorship of the NAACP magazine that he founded, Du Bois wrote pieces on virtually every aspect of American political, cultural, and economic life. Witty and sardonic, angry and satiric, proud and mournful, these writings show Du Bois at his freshest and most trenchant.