Oprah’s Book Club has a long-standing reputation for highlighting and elevating important literary works, and this latest selection is no exception with books by Black authors.
Oprah’s Book Club has a long-standing reputation for highlighting and elevating important literary works, and this latest selection is no exception with books by Black authors. With a focus on celebrating and acknowledging Black voices and perspectives, Oprah’s picks serve as a powerful tribute to Black history, culture, and experiences.
Oprah’s Book Club picks for Black History Month serve as a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the achievements and experiences of Black individuals throughout history. By reading and engaging with these books, we can learn, grow, and build a more inclusive and equitable world.
by Uwem Akpan
Uwem Akpan’s stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence. So piercingly that few readers will feel they’ve ever encountered Africa so immediately. The eight-year-old narrator of “An Ex-Mas Feast” needs only enough money. To buy books and pay fees in order to attend school.
Even when his twelve-year-old sister takes to the streets to raise these meager funds, his dream can’t be granted. Food comes first. His family lives in a street shanty in Nairobi, Kenya. But their way of both loving and taking advantage of each other strikes a universal chord.
by Maya Angelou
In The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou leaves California with her son, Guy, to move to New York. There she enters the society and world of black artists and writers, reads her work at the Harlem Writers Guild, and begins to take part in the struggle of black Americans for their rightful place in the world.
In the meantime, her personal life takes an unexpected turn. She leaves the bail bondsman she was intending to marry after falling in love with a South African freedom fighter, travels with him to London and Cairo, where she discovers new opportunities.
by Cynthia Bond
Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother.
When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
by Breena Clarke
When five-year-old Clara Bynum drowns in the Potomac River under a seemingly haunted rock outcropping known locally as the Three Sisters, the community must reconcile themselves to the bitter tragedy.
Clarke powerful charts the fallout from Clara’s death on the people she has left behind: her parents, Alice and Willie Bynum, torn between the old world of their rural North Carolina home and the new world of the city; the friends and relatives of the Bynum family in the Georgetown neighborhood they now call home; and, most especially, Clara’s sister, ten-year-old Johnnie Mae, who is thrust into adolescence and must come to terms with the terrible and confused emotions stirred by her sister’s death.
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her–but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.
So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.
by Edwidge Danticat
At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished Haitian village to New York to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her.
What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence. In her stunning literary debut, Danticat evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti–and the enduring strength of Haiti’s women–with vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people’s suffering and courage.
by Viola Davis
This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.
As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.
by Ernest J Gaines
From the author of “A Gathering of Old Men” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” comes a deep and compassionate novel. A young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to teach visits a black youth on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.
by Nathan Harris
In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry–freed by the Emancipation Proclamation–seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.
Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.
by Anthony Ray Hinton – Lara Love Hardin – Bryan Stevenson
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.
But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence–full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon–transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.
by Tayari Jones
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together. They are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.
Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored. Taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
by Jarvis Jay Masters
The moving memoir of a Death Row inmate who discovers Buddhism. And becomes an inspirational role model for fellow inmates, guards, and a growing public
While in the maximum security section of Death Row. Using the only instrument available to him. A ball-point pen filler–Masters’s astounding memoir. Is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit and the talent of a fine writer.
by Ayana Mathis
Full of hope, Hattie settles in Philadelphia to build a better life. Instead she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment. Watches helplessly as her firstborn twins are lost to an illness that a few pennies could have prevented.
Hattie gives birth to nine more children. Who she raises with grit, mettle, and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them to meet a world that will not be kind. Their lives, captured here in twelve luminous threads, tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage–and a nation’s tumultuous journey.
by James McBride
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles. Into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn. Pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring. From it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel. His first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird.
by Toni Morrison
In Morrison’s acclaimed first novel, Pecola Breedlove–an 11-year-old Black girl in an America. Whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others–prays for her eyes to turn blue. So that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
by Michelle Obama
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama. Has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America–the first African American to serve in that role. She helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. While also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world.
Dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives. Standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke. And raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
by Sidney Poitier
In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history. The power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure. As a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor.
Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas. For equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong. And of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world.
by Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood–where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia. Urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.
In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor. Engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next encountering. Like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.
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