We love Black History Month: It’s a chance to honor Black Yaddo artists who were pioneers in their fields. From writers like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Margaret Walker to visual artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Selma Burke, Terry Adkins and others, the legacy of Black artists at Yaddo enriches culture globally and propels our current and future BPOC artists and writers. This year, in celebration of Black History Month, we commemorate our rich history while embracing a dynamic future: Here’s our list of 20 books by Black Yaddo authors, mostly contemporary with a few literary lions added. Your purchase on Bookshop.org supports Yaddo AND independent bookstores. Scroll below for book details.

Featured Titles

1 - Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu: A coming-of-age memoir about “creating [your] own solid ground across countries and continents.”

2 - A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson: This book from the 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical offers a “blistering [account] of a young artist at war with his demons” (Playwright’s Horizon).

3 - Between the World and MeTa-Nehisi Coates: “One of the most influential books of the decade” (CNN) by a writer who “changed the national conversation about race” (Rolling Stone).

4 - chop: a collection of kwansabas for fannie lou hamerTreasure Shields Redmond: Poems focused on the life and work of civil rights activist and feminist Fannie Lou Hamer.

5 - Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to CarlottaJames Hannaham: A trans woman reenters life on the outside following two decades spent in a men’s prison in this “dangerously hilarious” (Los Angeles Times) novel. 

6 - Forever This SummerLeslie C. Youngblood: A follow-up to Love Like Sky, this YA novel centers on family, identity, and standing up for what’s right.

7 - Go Back and Get It: A Memoir of Race, Inheritance, and Intergenerational HealingDionne Ford: Stories of the author’s enslaved female ancestors offer a guide to healing and reclaiming power. 

8 - How to Say BabylonSafiya Sinclair: This riveting memoir centers on the author’s Rastafarian upbringing, finding her voice, and breaking free of patriarchy.

9 - I Just Keep Talking: A Life in EssaysNell Irvin Painter: Spanning art, politics, and our legacy of racism, here’s a forthcoming (April 23) essay collection from a dazzling writer. 

10 - Lighting the ShadowRachel Eliza Griffiths: Poems that explore desire, grief, trauma, and the wars (literal and metaphorical) that women survive.

11 - Mourner’s BenchSanderia Faye: A young girl comes to terms with religion, racism, and feminism while finding her place in her family and community.

12 - Nobody Knows My NameJames Baldwin: Passionate, probing essays from one of the greatest writers of our time.

13 - On Being Female, Black and FreeMargaret Walker: Essays written over six decades (1932-1992) from a literary icon.

14 - Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country CooksCrystal Wilkinson: A bestselling culinary journey through the Appalachians from the former poet laureate of Kentucky. 

15 - Sharks In the Time of SaviorsKawai Strong Washburn: One of Barack Obama’s favorite books (2020), this novel folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into a compelling family saga. 

16 - Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in PopDanyel Smith: One of the best books of the year per NPR, Variety, Esquire, The Guardian, and others.

17 - The Beloved CommunityPatricia Spears Jones: Traverse delis, laundromats, and various blocks in Brooklyn via this collection dedicated to musicians, artists, and fellow poets.

18 - Shadow KingMaaza Mengiste: “An unforgettable epic from an immensely talented author who’s unafraid to take risks” (NPR). 

19 - The Stars Beneath Our FeetDavid Barclay Moore: Heralded by many critics, this YA novel about a twelve-year-old’s life in Harlem shows up on many best-books-of-the-year lists.

20 - The TraditionJericho Brown: This poetry collection won the Pulitzer Prize and offers “a relentless dismantling of identity,” (Rita Dove).

Explore Further

Collectively, Yaddo artists have won 82 Pulitzer Prizes, 34 MacArthur Fellowships, 71 National Book Awards and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Learn more about the impact of Yaddo.

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