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Fiction by Black Authors

This list of some our favorite fiction by Black authors is roughly organized from youngest to oldest.

Playlist Tags: Wild Rumpus Books genre: Fiction & Literature fiction black authors juneteenth-featured

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A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

By Roseanne A. Brown
Narrated by: Jordan Cobb & A.J. Beckles
Length: 12 hours 3 minutes

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

“Escape into a time of heroes with Achilles' heels, women in armor, villains who might not be, murderous gardens, feisty gods, and little girls with terrible power. Enter, and gasp in awe at the rich, ancient culture, like no other in fiction, at the ricochet speed of shattering trust, the twisting of allegiances and the fracturing facets of an origin myth about to explode through the crowded streets during a raucous national festival. Two teens have explicit reasons to find and kill each other, one hobbled by ignorance, the other by illness, both with motives of love and desperation, each on opposite sides of a fracturing empire. Who is the griot putting each on such an unlikely path to meet? Or is there a more disturbing reason these two are drawn to each other? Highly recommended for teens and adults!”

The Haunted Bookshop image Nialle, The Haunted Bookshop
Audiobook details

Raybearer

The Raybearer Series: Book #1

By Jordan Ifueko
Narrated by: Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Length: 13 hours 48 minutes

Raybearer

“Such a cool fantasy novel with an incredible magic system! Perfect for fans of "Children of Blood and Bone." I highly recommend listening to the audiobook to further immerse yourself in this beautiful world that Ifueko has created.”

An Unlikely Story image Coleen, An Unlikely Story
Audiobook details

Saving Ruby King

A Novel

By Catherine Adel West
Narrated by: Kim Staunton, Imani Parks, Ron Butler, Adam Lazarre-White, Lloyd Roberson II & Terra Strong Lyons
Length: 10 hours 14 minutes

Saving Ruby King

“Saving Ruby King is a slow burn—a richly woven three-generation history of two families on the south side of Chicago, bound forever by trauma and religion. A tragic murder in the present unearths secret wrongdoings of the past. Intergenerational trauma is a primary focus, and the given circumstances allow readers to both hate and empathize with nearly all of the main characters. The full cast—including the omniscient church building—narrates the audiobook beautifully. Readers will learn that the bonds of true friendship can withstand anything. Trigger warnings: domestic violence, incest, rape.”

Raven Book Store image Mary, Raven Book Store
Audiobook details

The Vanishing Half

A Novel

By Brit Bennett
Narrated by: Shayna Small
Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

The Vanishing Half

“Brit Bennett’s second novel broke my heart. She doesn’t shy away from the sadness inherent in each character’s life, yet she left me feeling better for having met all of them. I read The Vanishing Half with a sense of hope, despite my dread that terrible things might befall the characters. Desiree and Stella’s story unfolds with a deft delicateness in a book that is astonishingly accomplished and sweeping, and yet so very intimate.”

Women & Children First image Jamie Thomas, Women & Children First
Audiobook details

Lakewood

A Novel

By Megan Giddings
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo
Length: 8 hours 33 minutes

Lakewood

“Lena just lost her grandmother, her mother has health problems and to top of off they are having financial problems. Lena takes a mysterious job in hopes help her mother and to pay off bills. Lakewood takes you into a dark world of medical testing where human rights are disregarded. This whole story felt more than real and makes you question how far you would go for to help your family.”

Birdy's Bookstore image Alexandra, Birdy's Bookstore
Audiobook details

The City We Became

A Novel
The Great Cities Trilogy: Book #1

By N. K. Jemisin
Narrated by: Robin Miles
Length: 16 hours 12 minutes

The City We Became

“I love N.K. Jemisin’s books, I love New York City, and I love this book about the soul and personification of New York. The City We Became might just be my favorite book to be published in 2020. This story is filled with tension, humor, and great characters, with a guest appearance near and dear to me. While this book is the beginning of a trilogy, it is completely satisfying as a stand-alone novel. Read it and be happy.”

Powell's Books image Doug Chase, Powell's Books
Audiobook details

Such a Fun Age

By Kiley Reid
Narrated by: Nicole Lewis
Length: 9 hours 58 minutes

Such a Fun Age

“What a beautifully rich and nuanced book! Emira, a mid-twenties educated but slightly driftless woman is working 2 part time jobs still trying to find her passion. She find joy in her part time babysitting job, finding her three year old charge a delightfully odd little person who keeps her interested. But things turn complicated when she is asked to take her charge to the local grocery store late at night and is accosted by the store security guard and a "well meaning" patron. Accused of kidnapping and unable to leave Emira holds her dignity and stands up for herself as another patron films the incident. Emira wants nothing more than to put the incident behind her but those closest to her have other ideas of what is best for her. This novel packs an emotional punch, making us question our own motives and wondering if we really have our loved ones best interests at heart. A perfect book group pick for those who like to focus on character driven stories.”

Books & Company image Genavieve, Books & Company
Audiobook details

Little Family

A Novel

By Ishmael Beah
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 7 hours 54 minutes

Little Family

“In beautiful prose, Ishmael Beah gives us the story of five children living on their own in an unnamed postcolonial African nation. They have formed a little family with code phrases, special whistles, and other safety measures for their life of petty theft while living in an abandoned airplane. The most compelling storyline in LITTLE FAMILY is that of Khoudiemata, the young teenager who is starting to understand her strength and power. As Khoudi starts to make friends outside of her little family, she begins to see that what has seemed permanent won't last.”

Avid Bookshop image Rachel, Avid Bookshop
Audiobook details

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick

Stories from the Harlem Renaissance

By Zora Neale Hurston
Narrated by: Aunjanue Ellis
Length: 8 hours 57 minutes

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick

“Zora Neale Hurston’s (Their Eyes Were Watching God, Barracoon) body of work continues to grow and impress. In Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, 21 short stories, including several “lost” pieces depicting the Great Migration to northern cities and Harlem’s educated New Negro middle class, offer an updated perspective of Hurston’s Harlem Renaissance-era cultural commentary. These stories, written in the 1920s and 30s, explore toxic masculinity and women’s agency, urban vs. rural class representations, colorism/shadeism, identity politics, and the intersectionality of race, class, age, and gender in a way that remains relevant today. And, by using humor, folklore, and her unique combination of delicate prose and vernacular speech, Hurston also has written thoroughly engaging slices-of-life, always centering Black characters, from a very specific time period. To fully appreciate Hurston’s stories, Tayari Jones (An American Marriage) recommends in her foreword, “reading this work aloud, enjoying the feel of the words in your mouth, and the sound of English tightened and strummed like the strings of a banjo.””

River Dog Book Co. image BrocheAroe, River Dog Book Co.
Audiobook details

These Ghosts are Family

A Novel

By Maisy Card
Narrated by: Karl O’Brian Williams
Length: 9 hours 55 minutes

PEN/Hemingway Award For Debut Novel Finalist​
Shortlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

A “rich, ambitious debut novel” (The New York Times Book Review) that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Stanford Solomon’s shocking,... Read more »
Audiobook details

We Ride Upon Sticks

A Novel

By Quan Barry
Narrated by: Isabel Keating
Length: 14 hours 44 minutes

We Ride Upon Sticks

“This is such a fun romp! It has everything you could possibly want in a book: field hockey, witches, and ’80s bangs that have literally taken on a life of their own. Set in Salem in the 1980s, we follow a group of high school field hockey players as they struggle with their new dark powers and attempt to end their losing streak. One of the strangest, most satisfying books I have read in a long time!”

Hillary Smith image Hillary Smith, Copperfield's Books Calistoga
Audiobook details

The Freedom Artist

By Ben Okri
Narrated by: Ben Okri
Length: 6 hours 51 minutes

In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner?

When Amalantis disappears, her lover Karnak goes looking for her. He searches desperately at first, then with a growing realization that to find Amalantis, he must first understand the meaning of... Read more »
Audiobook details

The Gone Dead

A Novel

By Chanelle Benz
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 8 hours 6 minutes

The Gone Dead

“Billie James travels to the Mississippi Delta from Philly for the first time since her father’s mysterious death, some 30 years before. Although she was there that night, she has no recollection of the events that occurred, but learns later that she went missing afterwards. This new detail causes her to start digging into what really happened, which gets her into trouble with people who want the past to remain buried. An emotional and tense novel about racism, justice, family, and the truth, Benz’s debut has so much edge to it that I could not stop reading!”

Fountain Bookstore image Carl Kranz, Fountain Bookstore
Audiobook details

The Death of Vivek Oji

A Novel

By Akwaeke Emezi
Narrated by: Chukwudi Iwuji & Yetide Badaki
Length: 7 hours 38 minutes

The Death of Vivek Oji

“This is not your usual mystery - it's a piecing together not of facts but of the soul. How did Vivek Oji die? The answer is complex, told in layered stories from Vivek's life from the ones who loved him the most. This book is about the parts of ourselves we hold secret, and the ones that make us feel the most free. It's honest, compelling, heartbreaking, and hopeful; it's a story you will never forget.”

Avid Bookshop image Christy, Avid Bookshop
Audiobook details

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

A Novel

By Cherie Jones
Narrated by: Danielle Vitalis
Length: 8 hours 41 minutes

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

“Lala wants more. More than her grandmother’s small house and strict admonishments. More than a hand on her head for her birthday. And certainly more than her grandmother’s tale about the one-armed sister, a tale of what happens to disobedient girls who venture where they shouldn’t. But mostly Lala wants her loving and protective mother who sang her name to her and who was murdered in her home while a very young Lala stood outside. Lala’s story becomes intertwined with the stories of Mira Whalen, the wealthy woman whose husband is murdered; Tone, the surfer gigolo; and her criminal husband Adan. They are stories of poverty, sexual abuse, loss, and pain. As their stories converge, there are harsh revelations for both the characters and the reader, and continuous suspense. This novel of poverty and survival, beautifully narrated, drew me in and often left me horrified at the actions and abuses of its characters. The suspense ebbs and flows but is ever-present, leading to a very effective open-ended conclusion.”

Raven Book Store image Nancy, Raven Book Store
Audiobook details

Ordinary Hazards

A Novel

By Anna Bruno
Narrated by: Amanda Dolan
Length: 9 hours 5 minutes

Named a Best Debut Novel of 2020 by Library Journal

“Seen through keen eyes and full of deep feeling, Ordinary Hazards delves into the psyche of a woman grappling with grief, loss, and the burdens of inheritance. Anna Bruno vividly renders the messiness of a single human life in all its joy and heartbreak.” —Claire Lombardo, New York Times... Read more »
Audiobook details

Transcendent Kingdom

A novel

By Yaa Gyasi
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 8 hours 40 minutes

Transcendent Kingdom

“This is a flippin’ gorgeous book. The writing is exquisite, the story is moving, and the characters are rendered with the skill of a true artist. Can you tell that I enjoyed this? Transcendent Kingdom is about Gifty, a young neuroscientist studying addiction. We come into her story just as she has taken her depressed mother into her care and is wrapping up an experiment. We see how her relationships with her mother, faith, and science have brought her to this point. If you need a book that is heartfelt and honest, read this one.”

Off the Beaten Path image Izzy, Off the Beaten Path
Audiobook details

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