African American fiction books often tell the stories of African American characters from the perspective of African American authors. Readers, however, can be any race or age. These stories chronicle tales not only of struggle but of triumph. They come from a perspective that may not be the most-read, but which many people could benefit from exploring, understanding, and enjoying.
Whether you have a moral purpose for seeking out African American fiction or you just like to explore new and interesting stories from great authors, these 5 fiction books should greatly improve your shelves.
Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen
Jayne Allen smiles, laughs, and spins tall tales like there’s no tomorrow. Black Girls Must Die Exhausted chronicles a modern woman’s troubles in the modern world, dealing with sensitive subjects from racism to mental health. This is an encouraging believe-in-yourself type of story also about the mundane hardships of living in the world. It should give anyone a boost of perspective, and maybe even a boost of confidence.
Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
Here’s one off the beaten path. Part time-travel story and all youth romance, Opposite of Always tells a story of falling in love hard and fast and facing death in the blink of an eye. The question it asks: how far would you bend reality to get your love back? What would you do in his place? Thus, Reynolds’ tale has made the rounds as a youth fiction best-seller for good reason.
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
This dark satire cut from the same cloth that Jordan Peele made the film Us tells a tragically funny tale of violence and acceptance. In We Cast a Shadow, a father protects his son from the community by turning him white: that’s the gist of it. The rest is cautionary, absurdist, funny, and packed with heart. It’s a fresh take on a dated problem that’s sure to get you thinking.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Decades ago, Ursula Le Guin wrote The Left Hand of Darkness, a sci-fi novel about people who could switch genders. Brit Bennett has done something similar with race, telling the story of twins who “choose” to live in either the black or white world. The story concerns the origins of desire, the expectations we have for each other and ourselves.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
We’re ending with a classic. This well-known epistolary fiction novel (written as a series of letters) tells the classic story of Celie’s life under the reins of a controlling husband. She thus learns about loss and victory in the course of this early 20th-century tale. Not only does it continue to pull readers’ heartstrings, but it also remains scarily relevant even decades later.
African American Fiction Books to Read Next
African American fiction books number in the thousands. We gave you five to choose from, including different eras and subject matters to give you a little variety. Therefore, feel free to read them all on your quest to broaden your perspective and enjoy some great modern fiction.