Six Thrilling Novels Written By Black Authors

As you’re probably well aware, I love to read. On average, I burn through a book a week, and I try to maintain a healthy balance between fiction and nonfiction.

At the same time, I’ve been reevaluating my own reading habits, and I came to the troubling realization that an overwhelming majority of the books I read are written by white (and male) authors. Part of this is due to the under-representation of Black voices in the publishing industry. But a bulk of the responsibility for my white-washed reading habits rests on my own ignorance.

In this past week, books about anti-racism by Black authors have skyrocketed to the New York Times’s bestseller lists. And that’s awesome (and historic). But I also have a soft spot in my heart for thrilling science-fiction, fantasy, and action novels.

In my attempts to “decolonize” my bookshelf and TBR pile, I’ve decided to share a list of books that appeal to my love for fantastic and imaginative fiction written by Black authors. I’ve only read a couple of these books, but over the next couple of months, these novels will be a part of my “Summer reading” schedule. I hope it inspires you to seek out literature and art outside of your comfort zone and privilege bubble. 


If You Like…

Stories about survival, time travel, light science-fiction, or historical dramas that strip away the romanticism and nostalgia from the era in which they’re set…

Then You’ll Love…

kindred

Kindred – Octavia Butler

Published in 1979, Kindred is considered to be the first science-fiction novel written by a Black woman. The story follows Dana, a modern Black woman, who finds herself transported to the Antebellum South where she must survive the horrors of life as a woman enslaved on a plantation. Kindred is an exploration of generational trauma, sexism, and the enduring legacy of white supremacy.


If You Like…

Frightening and socially-conscious stories about zombies, pandemics, and rebuilding civilization, or television shows and movies like The Walking Dead, World War Z, Dawn of the Dead, and I Am Legend

Then You’ll Love…

zoneone

Zone One – Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead recently won his second Pulitzer Prize for 2019’s The Nickel Boys, but I’m particularly fond of his literary zombie thriller. Set in the aftermath of a zombie plague, Zone One follows a group of army volunteers tasked with “mopping up” the straggling undead in New York in preparation for the re-opening of the city. Whitehead uses this pulpy hook to explore ideas related to colonization, PTSD, and the corporization of the military.


If You Like…

Thrilling stories about World War II, brothers-in-arms, military misadventures, and obscure history, or television shows and movies like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Free State of Jones, and Glory

Then You’ll Love…

miracle

Miracle at St. Anna – James McBride

A historical fiction novel that dramatizes the true story of the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II, Miracle at St. Anna follows a squad of Black U.S. soldiers cut off from their platoon and forced to defend a small Italian town from an onslaught of German troops. Along the way, author James McBride explores the contradictory nature of Black men fighting for freedom abroad when their own country views them as less than human.


If You Like…

Epic fantasy novels filled with large-scale battles, conflicted heroes, and geopolitical intrigue, or television shows and movies like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Witcher, Black Panther, and Star Wars

Then You’ll Love…

Dragons

The Rage of Dragons – Evan Winter

Evan Winter was inspired to write The Rage of Dragons when he realized there weren’t many heroic black characters in popular fantasy his son could look up to. The Rage of Dragons is a bold and brutal military-fantasy novel set in a world inspired by pre-colonized Africa. A stunning debut novel, Winter packs The Rage of Dragons with ferociously-written action scenes and searing cinematic images – like a dragon the size of a 747 torching a bloody battlefield.


If You Like…

Eerily relevant post-apocalyptic stories with strong female characters and books that explore the complicated relationship between religion and government, or television shows and movies like The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The 100

Then You’ll Love…

sower

The Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler

The second entry by Octavia Bulter in this list, The Parable of the Sower was published in 1993 and is set in California in the early 2020s after the U.S. is ravaged by climate change, racial violence, and economic collapse. Living in an isolated compound with her preacher father, 15-year-old Laura sets out on a dangerous and violent journey across the country to preach a radical message of social justice and unity.


If You Like…

Dense fantasy/science-fiction stories with complex world-building, intricate magic systems, and unique storytelling, or movies and television shows like The 100, Mad Max: Fury Road, Lord of the Rings, and The Road

Then You’ll Love…

fifthseason

The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin

The first installment of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season and its sequels each won the coveted Hugo Award for literary excellence in fantasy and science fiction. Set in our world that’s undergone multiple continent-shifting apocalypses, The Fifth Season‘s deceptively simple storyline – a mother searches for her missing daughter – is wrapped in an incredibly detailed and fully-realized environment in which magic exists and there are no easy answers.


I’m curious, which one of these six books looks most intriguing to you? Also, if you have any other recommendations in a similar vein, let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

7 thoughts on “Six Thrilling Novels Written By Black Authors

  1. I follow probably 50 science fiction/fantasy writers/publishers/readers etc. on social media. I’ve never heard of rage of dragons. I really want to read this now, and can’t believe its never been mentioned on the blogs I follow. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Fifth Season is great. The series is a little heavy to reread often, but its also incredibly rich world and character building. Finally, I haven’t read it yet, but have heard absolutely stellar things about Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. Neil Gaiman blerbed it, if that says anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Red Rising has been recommended to me numerous times, but for whatever reason, never quite made it to my tbr. Something about it just never clicked. I can be stubborn about books, and often find I enjoy ones I wouldn’t have predicted, so maybe I’ll give it a go soon.

    Like

  3. I recently read Parable of the Sower, and will be blogging on it next. week. Might I also recommend Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi? It follows the parallel paths of two sisters from Ghana, one sold into slavery and the other remaining in Ghana in comfort, and their descendants for eight generations. This ranks as one of my favorite books of all time. Published in 2016.

    Like

  4. The parable of the sower by Octavia sounds like the type of adventure I enjoy experiencing from the safety of my reading chair! Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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