Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Books by black folks that are not about race

Or at least not only about race. Please chime in!

If These Walls Could Talk by Bettye Griffin: real-estate dreams

The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate: drama at a New England prep school

Better Than I Know Myself by Deberry and Grant: friendship amongst women

Shifting Through Neutral by Bridgette Davis: a father & daughter relationship

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer: nerds & others who happen to be black

The Untelling by Tayari Jones: a young woman haunted by a family accident

The Other Brother by Brandon Massey: a man's half-brother comes to claim what's his

Somebody Else's Mama by David Haynes: a woman and her mother-in-law

Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy: personal identity

Sisters and Lovers by Connie Briscoe: 3 sisters and their relationships (sequel coming in June!)

Tumbling by Diane McKinney-Whetstone: a married couple during the 40s & 50s

Baby of the Family by Tina McElroy Ansa: a woman born with 2nd sight

Waiting in Vain by Colin Channer: a sexy love story

Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do by Pearl Cleage: a woman in recovery meets her soul mate

The Middle Sister by Bonnie Glover: a girl struggles after her parents divorce

Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins: a divorced woman tries to save a dying town

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead: growing up in the 80s

Every Reasonable Doubt by Pamela Samuels-Young: a murder mystery written by an attorney


Lisa said...

How about Orange Mint and Honey, by Carleen Brice and On Beauty, by Zadie Smith...

susan said...

Can we include YA?

Carleen Brice said...

Lisa, Thank you...but you can stop recommending my book now. :)

Susan, Definitely, we can include YA and children's. I'm just deficient in those categories.

macon d said...

Zora Neale Hurston's Seraph on the Suwanee is about how class differences in a marriage affect the female protagonist. The characters are white, but I don't know that it's really ABOUT race. And yet, since they are white, it can't help but be about race, among other things. Just like any other book with white people in it (though white people rarely realize that).

Sarah Rettger said...

The Kayla Chronicles, by Sherri Winston - what feminism means, and how it fits into high school

Bucking the Sarge, by Christopher Paul Curtis - why being the son of a slumlord doesn't make for a normal teenage existence

Jason & Kyra, by Dana Davidson - what happens when the smart girl meets the popular guy

Anonymous said...

Can I second The Fall of Rome? I just read it, and loved it. The jacket made it seem like an "issues" kind of book, which put me off, but it wasn't that at all. I mean, race was a big part of the story, and of the characters' behaviors, but that wasn't why I couldn't wait to get back to it every time I put it down. Everyone was so alive and so interesting and there was this delicious feeling of doom and collision hanging over every encounter. A great read.

Unknown said...

Yeah, first book that popped into my mind was Orange Mint & Honey. But in addition I'll add,

1. The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair Thompson(which is kind of about Race, but not really and it's in Jamaica so it doesn't really count)

2. The Three Muskateers by Alexander Dumas

3. Jump at the Sun by Kim McLarin

4. Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy

5. A Love Noire and Hunger by Erica Simone Turnipseed

6. Kickboxing Geishas by Veronica Chambers

Doret said...

Just read Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead and its amazing

A la Carte by Tanita S Davis- About a girl who dreams of having her own vegetarian cooking show.

The Making of Dr.TrueLove by Derrick Barnes

susan said...

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

After Tupac & D Foster, From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun,I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Lena, all by Jacqueline Woodson

Every Time A Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia

Burn by Black Artemis

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott- Race is central here, but this also raises important issues about terrorism, how after 9/11, White Americans only saw terrorists with brown faces and foreign names, ignoring the violent, terrorist attacks perpetrated by Americans.

When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune by Lori A. Williams

Anything by Octavia E. Butler. While her main characters are black, the stories are never just about race. Butler is always pushing the reader's buttons about social mores and beliefs that we often think are concrete issues when they are complex, shades of grey.

Lena is actually about a white girl who is the friend of a black girl and this novel is a sequel. The story is about their friendship not about race. In the other stories, race is an element that informs the story but not the central theme.

Claudia said...

Anything by Samuel R. Delany!

He is a black sci-fi/fantasy writer who often does not writing explicitly about race, although like Octavia Butler, he may emphasize metaphors of "difference." My favorite books by him are the Tales of Neveryon series, a kind of sword and sorcery fantasy that turns Conan on its head.

Wilhelmina said...

Malcolm Gladwell's books "Outliers", "The Topping Point" and "Blink" are not about race. In fact, I'm willing to bet that most of the readers of these best selling books don't even know that he is Black!

Dal Jeanis said...

And don't care, wdjenkins1. Just like Butler and Delany's readers don't care.

Tell a great story and we'll read.

On the other hand, most readers don't want to be moralized at, and most white readers especially don't want to be moralized at on account of race. We have the news media and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for that, why would we want to pay an author and take up our own precious time for it?

I think one of the strengths of Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow mysteries, for me, is the lack of white characters. The moral context is therefore race-neutral, even though race and class are important contexts for the stories. It's very interesting to see moral problems struggled with in a different milieu, every bit as strongly as the equivalent speculative fiction story.