Favorite 100 Titles of the 20th Century

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 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 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 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 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 Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan #21 – Waiting To Exhale

by Terry McMillan (9780670839803)
Penguin Random House (May 28, 1992)

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Click for more detail about A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley #23 – A Little Yellow Dog

by Walter Mosley (9780743451802)
Simon & Schuster, Inc. (Nov 01, 2002)

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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 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 by Edwidge Danticat #32 – Breath, Eyes, Memory

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 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 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 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 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 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 Spook Who Sat by the Door by Sam Greenlee #59 – The Spook Who Sat by the Door

by Sam Greenlee (9780814322468)
Wayne State University Press (May 01, 1989)

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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 by Langston Hughes #63 – The Best of Simple

by Langston Hughes (9780374521332)
Hill and Wang (Sep 28, 1990)

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 B-Boy Blues by James Earl Hardy #88 – B-Boy Blues

by James Earl Hardy (9781555832681)
Alyson Books (Jul 01, 1994)

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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 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 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 Sounder by William H. Armstrong
#100 – Sounder

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

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