Creative Works by African-American Writers: A Reading List

covers of recommended books

Imaginative storytelling has the narrative power to build greater empathy within and among readers.  In support of the African-American community in Kansas City, nationwide, and all over the world, the UMKC English Department offers the following list of recommended creative works by African-American writers:

Hadara Bar-Nadav, Professor and Director of Creative Writing, recommends:  Gwendolyn Brooks’ Selected Poems

Virginia Blanton, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, recommends:  Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God

Britta Bletscher, MA student and GTA, recommends:  Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

Crystal Doss, Associate Teaching Professor, recommends:  Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Madison Clay, MA student, recommends:  Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give 

Ande Davis, PhD candidate, recommends:  Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith, Jamal Igle, and Khary Randolph’s BLACK

Laurie Ellinghausen, Professor and Interim Chair, recommends:  Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Robert Farnsworth, emeritus faculty, recommends:  Richard Wright’s Native Son

Thomas Ferrel, instructor and director of the Writing Studio, recommends:  Alice Walker’s To Hell with Dying

Jane Greer, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor, recommends:  Nella Larsen’s Quicksand

Emily Grover, Instructor, recommends:  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

Christie Hodgen, Professor and Editor of New Letters, recommends:  James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son”

Sheila Honig, Lecturer, recommends:  James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” 

Ben Jasnow, Instructor, recommends:  Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Sarah Beth Mundy, Instructor:  recommends:  Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People

Ashley Pendleton, MA student and GTA, recommends:  Nic Stone’s Dear Martin

Jennifer Phegley, Professor, recommends:  Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

Robert Stewart, the former editor of New Letters, recommends:  Tim Seibles’ One Turn Around the Sun