Women’s National Book Association just released 100 Fiction Books by American Women and 100 Non-Fiction Books by American Women. The list features brilliant works that fall in the genres of fiction, poetry, and memoir. Each week, we’ll feature authors from the list. In honor of Black History Month, the series kicks off with a few books written by Black women.
Ifemelu leaves Nigeria to head to America to continue her education, while Obinze, the love of her life finds himself in London after being barred from joining her in a post 9/11 USA. In their adopted homelands, both for the first time are forced to grapple with race, and what it means to be an “other” while juggling studies, forming and keeping new relationships, and acclimating to new customs while holding on to their own. Told in first person, the beautifully descriptive narratives reads as if it could be a real memoir. Honors for Americanah include National Book Critics Circle Award and being voted one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review in 2013. It’s currently in the running for One Book, One New York.
“Negroland is my name for a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson in the opening of her memoir. Negroland dates back to antebellum times, when blacks of the North and South used lightness of their skin, hair texture, and educational and professional successes as ways to monitor who gained admission into their elite social groups. Born in Chicago in 1947 to a physician father and a socialite mother, Jefferson spent most of her life among the black aristocracy, which didn’t totally bar her from the rumblings of civil rights movement and feminism. Jefferson tackles her life honestly in order to expose privilege, discrimination and the “fallacy of a post-racial America.”
In her more than twenty-five year career, poet and activist Nikki Giovannia has come to be both revered and controversial. Beloved poems such as “Seduction,” “I Wrote a Good Omelet,” “My House” and “All Eyez on U,” written for rapper Tupac Shakur join over twenty new poems in Love Poems. The “romantic, bold and erotic” collection expresses love in “delightfully unexpected” ways, which is what no doubt lands the book on this list.
For the full list of 100 Fiction Books by American Women, click here. And the full list of 100 Nonfiction Books by American Women is here.