A list of some of the most influential African American authors and their most famous works:
Beloved : Awarded the Pulitzer Prize, 1988. Chronicles the life of Sethe who is haunted by terrible memories of her former life as a slave. After the Civil War ends, Sethe longingly recalls the two-year-old daughter whom she killed when threatened with recapture after escaping from slavery 18 years before.
Zora Neale Thurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God : An African-American woman searches for a fulfilling relationship through two loveless marriages and finally finds it in the person of Tea Cake, an itinerant laborer and gambler.
Go Tell It On The Mountain : Story is of a day in the life of several members of a Harlem fundamentalist church. Through flashbacks, we witness a saga of three generations of black people.
Kindred : Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
A Gathering Of Old Men : The murder of a white Cajun farmer named Boutan unleashes a fury of buried hatred and defiance, as Sheriff Mapes tries to identify the killer--a white overseer and a group of Black farmers all claim responsibility--and prevent revenge.
Color Purple : A feminist novel about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment, the novel was praised for the depth of its female characters and for its eloquent use of black English vernacular.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings : Autobiography covering the childhood of a woman who has been a professional dancer, actress, poet, journalist, and television producers.
Native Son : Widely acclaimed as one of the finest books ever written on race and class divisions in America, this powerful novel reflects the forces of poverty, injustice, and hopelessness that continue to shape our society.
Collected Poems Of Langston Hughes : Collects 868 poems by African-American author Langston Hughes, including nearly three hundred never before presented in book form, and includes explanatory notes.
Invisible Man : Invisible Man chronicles the travels of its narrator, a young, nameless black man, as he moves through the hellish levels of American intolerance and cultural blindness.
Autobiography Of Malcolm X : The absorbing personal story of the man who rose from a life of crime to become the most dynamic leader of the black revolution.