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Queer African American Authors

An introductory guide to queer African American writers, spotlighting authors James Baldwin, Roxane Gay, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker, as well as other books from the collection

Welcome!

This research guide was created as an introduction to queer African American writers. This guide spotlights works in our collection by LGBTQ+ African American authors and features pages dedicated to writers James Baldwin, Roxane Gay, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker to highlight their contributions to American literature. Below, you will find a collection of fiction available to check out at Eden's Library as well background information on the intersectionality of queer and Black identities. On each "Featured Writers" page, you will find biographical information about each author, works by each author that are available to check out, literary criticisms, and more. Happy researching!

Collection Spotlight: Queer African American Authors

King and the Dragonflies, Kacen Callender

 

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy-that he thinks he might be gay. "You don't want anyone to think you're gay too, do you?" But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King's friendship with Sandy is reignited, he's forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother's death.

Queen of the Conquered, Kacen Callender

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands' colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people -- and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge. When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic. Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers... lest she become the next victim.

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel, Marlon James

 

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years. Spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters -- assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts -- A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 70s, to the crack wars in 80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 90s.

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin

"Intricate and extraordinary." - New York Times on The Fifth Season (A New York Times Notable Book of 2015)

WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL 2016


This is the way the world ends...for the last time.

A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin

Winner of the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novel

"Magnificent" - NPR

The acclaimed sequel to the bestselling The Fifth Season, winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015.

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS, FOR THE LAST TIME.

The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night.

Essun -- once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger -- has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power - and her choices will break the world.

The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin

A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
A NPR Best Book of 2017

The shattering conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with The Fifth Season, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and The Obelisk Gate, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2017.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother's mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS... FOR THE LAST TIME.

"Extraordinary." - New York Times on The Fifth Season

Lot: Stories, Bryan Washington

In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys. Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston's myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra. Bryan Washington's brilliant, viscerally drawn world vibrates with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.

Before the Ever After, Jacqueline Woodson

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies. For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that-but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

 

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson's poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Harbor Me, Jacqueline Woodson

Six kids discover the power of sharing their secrets and their stories ... It all starts when six kids are sent to a room for a weekly chat - by themselves, with no adults to listen in. At first they fear this new unfamiliar and wonder what on earth they'll even talk about. But in the place they dub the ARTT room ("A Room To Talk"), they discover it's safe to discuss stuff they usually keep private. A father has recently gone missing, and that starts a conversation about the things causing angst in their lives, from racial profiling and fears of deportation to a deep yearning for family history and a sense of belonging. When the six of them are together, they find they can express the feelings and fears they usually hide from the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives. With her always honest, lyrical writing, acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson celebrates the power of friendship, open-minded dialogue and empathy. Harbor Me digs in deep to show how so many of America's social issues affect today's kids - and how they creatively learn to forge their way in spite of them.

On the Intersection of Black and Queer Identities