As we enter Black History Month, you may be considering finding some contemporary fiction from Black authors that underscores present and relevant social issues. To that end, we list below 10 of the most anticipated fiction books by Black authors, according to members of Goodreads. The books are all published in or going to be published in 2021 and have amassed significant ratings from a significant number of reviewers on Goodreads — the choices are also informed by how many Goodreads members have added these books to their “want to read” lists.
By no means a definitive list, this selection of books spans the deepening divide between Black and white communities in the U.S., the enduring force of historical traditions and racial inequalities in America’s workforce, among other significant and contemporary themes. From established authors like Colson Whitehead to new voices like Mateo Askaripour, below you’ll find plenty of compelling, intriguing and enlightening books to add to your reading list right now — and for months to come.
1. “The Prophets” by Robert Jones Jr.
- Goodreads: 4.17-star average rating, more than 1,700 ratings
This novel follows the love story of two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation. When an older man starts preaching at the master’s gospel, the couple find themselves navigating a community that considers them as a danger to the plantation’s harmony.
2. “Black Buck” by Mateo Askaripour
- Goodreads: 3.96-star average rating, more than 2,100 ratings
Twenty-two-year-old Darren goes from Starbucks employee to NYC tech startup salesperson overnight. Navigating the ups and downs of success and its strains on his personal life, Darren searches for meaning in his brand new future.
3. “Yellow Wife” by Sadeqa Johnson
- Goodreads: 4.47-star average rating, more than 750 ratings
Pheby Brown expected to be freed on her eighteenth birthday. Instead, she finds herself thrust into Virginia’s most infamous slave jail, wrestling with the implications of giving up love and freedom.
4. “The Kindest Lie”by Nancy Johnson (pre-order)
- Goodreads: 4.17-star average rating, nearly 300 ratings
Engineer Ruth Tuttle returns to her hometown in Indiana, she discovers the sacrifices her family made to give her a better future. Through Tuttle’s journey home, Johnson examines the struggles Black Americans face to achieve success.
- Goodreads: 4.27-star average rating, more than 50 ratings
After a community in Piedmont, North Carolina, decides to draw students from the largely Black side of town into the white high schools on the west, students Gee and Noelle find themselves at the center of a complicated debate around integration.
6. “Libertie” by Kaitlyn Greenidge (pre-order)
- Goodreads: 3.75-star average rating, more than 60 ratings
Libertie Sampson feels stifled by her mother’s wish for her to be a practicing physician in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn. Compelled to pursue music over science, Sampson discovers what such freedom means for a Black woman.
7. “Caul Baby” by Morgan Jerkins (pre-order)
- Goodreads: 3.62-star average rating, more than 30 ratings
Laila desperately wants to become a mother and, after previous pregnancies fall through, turns to the Melancon family for their precious “caul,” which possesses healing powers she desperately hopes to gain. This magical novel brings together the weight of tradition and the power of family, exploring both positive and negative applications thereof.
8. “The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris (pre-order)
- Goodreads: 4.17-star average rating, more than 170 ratings
Zakiya Dalila Harris’s thriller centers around editorial assistant Nella Rogers, who’s fed up with the isolation and microaggressions at her company. As colleague and Harlem-born Hazel climbs the workplace hierarchy, Rogers considers perceived hostilities and how to best work through them.
9. “Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Cosby (pre-order)
- Goodreads: 3.73-star average rating, more than 10 ratings
When Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee learn their sons have been murdered, the odd couple band together in a desperate desire for revenge. Initially the tale of bloody retribution, the pair confront their own prejudices in Cosby’s story of change and redemption.
10. “Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead (pre-order)
- Goodreads: 4.60-star average rating, 5 ratings
Furniture salesman Ray Carney gets tied up with sketchy clientele out of necessity and finds himself navigating rougher and rougher waters. Set in 1960s New York, a family saga unfolds that promises tales of love, crime and hilarity.