Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.

This week’s theme: Borrowed

While the weekly prompts for 5 on my TBR have resumed, I have instead decided to pursue what I have already started in the past two weeks, which was to feature works of American literature. But American literature, on its own, is vast. As such, I have divided it into parts. I already featured works of Asian American writers and Native American writers. For this week, I will be featuring works of African American and Black American writers. The 20th century saw the remarkable rise of African American and Black American writers. Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker are among the names that have redefined the place of African/Black American literature in the grand scheme of things. Morrison would even go and win the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. While I have read my fair share of their works, I know that I have barely scratched the surface. Without more ado, here are works of African American and Black American literature I can’t wait to immerse myself in. Happy Monday and happy reading!

5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!


Title: Native Son
Author: Richard Wright
Publisher: Perennial Classics
Publishing Date: 1998
No. of Pages: 462

Synopsis: Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection of the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

Title: Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo
Author: Ntozake Shange
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: 1982
No. of Pages: 225

Synopsis: Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo is the story of three colored girls, three sisters and their mama from Charleston, South Carolina: Sassafrass, the oldest, a poet and a weaver like her mother, gone north to college, living in L.A> and trying to weave a life out of her work, her man, her memories, and dreams; Cypress, the dancer who leaves home to find new ways of moving and easing the contradictions of her soul; Indigo, the youngest, still a child of Charleston – “too much of the South in her” – who can hear her dolls talk and has the great gift of seeing the obvious magic of the world.

Title: Song of Solomon
Author: Toni Morrison
Publisher: Plume/Penguin
Publishing Date:1987
No. of Pages: 337 pages

Synopsis: Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Publishing Date: 2008
No. of Pages: 202

Synopsis:  Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Zora Neale Hurston’s first novel, originally published in 1934, tells the story of John Buddy Pearson, “a living exultation” of a young man who loves too many women for his own good. Lucy, his long-suffering wife, is his true love, but there’s also Mehaley and Big’Oman, as well as the scheming Hattie, who conjures hoodoo spells to ensure his attentions. Even after becoming the popular pastor of Zion Hope, where his sermons and prayers for cleansing rouse the congregation’s fervor, John has to confess that though he is a preacher on Sundays, he is a “natchel man” the rest of the week. And on in this sympathetic portrait of a man and his community, Zora Neale Hurston shows that faith, tolerance, and good intentions cannot resolve the tension between the spiritual and the physical. That she makes this age-old dilemma come so alive is a tribute to her understanding of the vagaries of human nature.

Title: Giovanni’s Room
Author: James Baldwin
Publisher:
 Delta Publishing
Publishing Date: June 2000
No. of Pages: 169

Synopsis: Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of human heart.

Title: The Intuitionist
Author: Colson Whitehead
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publishing Date: January 2000
No. of Pages: 255

Synopsis: Two warring factions in the Department of Elevator Inspectors in a bustling metropolis vie for dominance: the Empiricists, who go by the book and rigorously check every structural and mechanical detail, and the Intuitionists, whose observational methods involve meditation and instinct. Lila Mae Watson, the city’s first black female inspector and a devout Intuitionist with the highest accuracy rate in the department, is at the center of the turmoil. An elevator in a new municipal building has crashed on Lila Mae’s watch, fanning the flames of the Empiricist-Intuitionist feud and compelling Lila Mae to go underground to investigate. As she endeavors to clear her name, she becomes entangled in a web of intrigue that leads her to a secret that will change her life forever.

A dead-serious and seriously funny feat of the imagination, The Intuitionist conjures a parallel universe in which latent ironies in matters of morality, politics, and race come to light, and stands as the celebrated debut of an important American writer.