Kimberla Lawson Roby

(Grand Central, Jan. 2017)

In this novel about a female relationship, Simone’s admiring attention to her successful friend Traci--an author and fashionable dresser in a loving relationship--curdles into obsession, jealousy and resentment.

Difficult Women

Roxane Gay

(Grove, Jan. 2017)

In this collection of short stories, the acclaimed academic, essayist, and novelist depicts the lives of a variety of women—some privileged, others poor—with passion, in tales full of quirky human connections.

An Extraordinary Union

Alyssa Cole

(Kensington, April 2017)

Set in 1861, this historical novel combines intrigue and romance in the story of a freedwoman who goes undercover as a mute slave to spy for the Union army.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

Patricia Hruby Powell and Shadra Strickland

(Chronicle, Jan. 2017)

Using a combination of spare verse, archival photos, and delightful illustrations by Strickland, Powell creates an unusual illustrated novel based on the story of interracial love and marriage between Richard and Mildred Loving and the landmark legal case that came out of their bond.

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead

Chanelle Benz

(Ecco, Jan. 2017)

A debut collection of short stories connected by the issues of race, history, and gender, which range from a fictional slave narrative to a contemporary tale seen through the eyes of a Philadelphia ninth grader.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

(Doubleday, out now)

Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for fiction, Whitehead’s fictional slave narrative turns the metaphorical Underground Railroad into a literal railway, with trains and conductors in underground stations, that his heroine, the runaway slave Cora, uses in a desperate attempt to escape the horrors of slavery.

Unwrapping the Holidays

Nana Malone and Sheryl Lister

(Harlequin Kimani, out now)

A collection of Christmas-themed love stories by two bestselling romance writers.


Spirit Boxing

Afaa Michael Weaver

(Univ. of Pittsburgh, Feb. 2017)

Weaver mines his 15 years as a factory worker in poems that seek to venture into the intimate core of the working class.

Graphic Novels

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

An adaptation of Octavia Butler's novel by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

(Abrams ComicArts, Jan. 2017)

Duffy and Jennings transform Butlers's acclaimed novel into comics, recreating the tale of a young black women writer's mysterious transportation back in time to a Maryland plantation and into the midst of the horrors of American slavery and its effect on the black and white people it has bond together.

March: Book Three

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf, out now)

Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature—the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award—the concluding third volume of Lewis’s civil rights graphic memoir documents the courageous and heroic struggle for racial justice in America.

Prince of Cats

Ron Wimberly

(Image, out now)

A new, expanded hardcover edition of Wimberly’s acclaimed hip-hop- and samurai-inflected reimagining of Romeo & Juliet, in which the play is transported to the streets of black Brooklyn. Written in an imaginative B-boy-influenced Elizabethan-style verse, the language of this heady comics adaptation is a clever mash-up of contemporary street speak and Shakespearean argot.


Albert Murray: Collected Essays and Memoirs

Albert Murray, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Paul Devlin

(Library of America, out now)

An omnibus edition of Murray’s essay collections (The Omni-Americans, South to a Very Old Place, and The Hero and the Blues) in addition to other nonfiction works by the acclaimed cultural critic and novelist.

Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn

Frederick Douglass, edited by Theodore Hamm

(Akashic, Jan. 2017)

Although he never lived in Brooklyn, the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass had many friends and allies who did. Hamm has collected Douglass’s searing antislavery speeches (and denunciations of him by the pro-slavery newspaper the Brooklyn Eagle) delivered at Brooklyn locales during the mid-19th century.

Gone ‘Til November

Lil Wayne


In 2010 the prolific superstar rapper Lil Wayne was convicted of possessing an illegal firearm and sentenced to Jail at Rikers Island. This is his diary of his time spent behind bars, a record of his daily life and rituals and how he kept himself motivated to make it through the experience.

The Lost Champions: Four Men, Two Teams, and the Breaking of Pro Football’s Color Line

Gretchen Atwood

(Bloomsbury, out now)

Atwood tells the story of Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Bill Willis, and Marion Motley, the four black football players signed to integrate pro football in 1946, and the racist resistance they faced in the league.

The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own

Edited by Veronica Chambers

(St. Martin’s, Jan. 2017)

A literary farewell gift to the soon-to-be-former First Lady that offers engaging perspectives on Michelle Obama by such writers as Roxane Gay, Ava Duvernay, Phillipa Soo, and Chirlane McCray.

My Life, My Love, My Legacy

Coretta Scott King (as told to Barbara Reynolds)

(Holt, Jan. 2017)

This is the life story of Coretta Scott King (1927–2006), wife of the great American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and it tells the story of her accomplishments, including raising four children as a widowed single mother and championing gay rights and AIDS awareness.

Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad

Jeanine Michna-Bales

(Princeton Architectural Press, Feb. 2017)

The product of 10 years of research, this book of photographs captures images from the plantation states of Mississippi and Louisiana and from Indiana and Canada, capturing what might have been the visual experience of a runaway slave.

Writings On the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Ostfield

(Time Inc. Books, out now)

Jabbar proves yet again that he’s more than a Hall of Fame basketball star, in a book of essays that address issues around social justice and race that continue to plague American life.


My Name Is James Madison Hemings

Jonah Winter

(Random/Schwartz & Wade, out now)

In a picture book that details the contradictions in founding father Thomas Jefferson’s life in regards to his treatment of his white family and his black slave family, Winters tells the story of Jefferson’s enslaved son.

Piecing Me Together

Renee Watson

(Bloomsbury, Feb. 2017)

In this novel, Jade, a smart black teenage girl looking to get out of her poor neighborhood, takes a scholarship to a mostly white private school and encounters a series of unfortunate social and racial land mines generated by good intentions.

Riding Chance

Christine Kendall

(Scholastic, out now)

In this novel a tough city kid makes a mistake and ends up “sentenced” to take care of the horses in the City Stables, where he discovers and embraces the sport of polo.

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