The Best Black & African-American Books of 2013

2013 was a phenomenal year in literature for Black/African-American authors as well as the readers who love them. From a thirtysomething Chicagoan who re-defined the art of the ‘rant’ in her first book of essays (Samantha Irby’s Meaty) to a respected non-fiction author trying her hand for the first time at a novel (Rebecca Walker’s Ade: A Love Story), a formidable mixture of genre, form and narrative style made 2013 one of Black America’s best literary years in recent memory. I was especially happy to see some of my non-fiction favorites return in rare form and characteristically wise fashion: Harriette Cole, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou.

Some particular highlights include Oprah Winfrey’s decision to resurrect a late 2012 literary book into a 2013 pop culture frenzy when she selected Ayana Mathis’s Twelve Tribes of Hattie to re-launch Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, the release of Jamaica Kincaid’s first novel in ten years (See Now Then), James McBride’s National Book Award win for The Good Lord Bird and Hilton Als’ first mass-market print book publication in fourteen years with the incisive White Girls.  And I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m ready to ease into my movie theatre seat to watch another Easy Rawlins mystery on the big screen.

Here is what I read throughout the year and cram into what’s left of the year now:

Here is ordered listing by approximate release, as well as publisher information:
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Knopf)

108 Stitches: Words We Live By by Harriette Cole (Harriette Cole Media)

See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Random House)

Turning Madness Into Flowers: Poems &
The Cushion in the Road by Alice Walker (The New Press)

Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan (Viking)

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)

The Morning After by Kenji Jasper (The Other Place Media)

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Riverhead)

Harlem Nocturne by Farah Jasmine Griffin (Basic Books)

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)

Meaty: Essays by Samantha Irby (Curbside Splendor)

Ade: A Love Story by Rebecca Walker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing by Audrey Petty (Voices of Witness/McSweeney’s)

White Girls by Hilton Als (McSweeney’s)

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