What Do I Read Next?
Harriet A. Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by herself was first published in 1861. Since then, it has remained the classic example of the slave narrative genre. The autobiography tells of her life as a slave and her escape to the north in the 1830s.
In order to answer the doubt that he was ever a slave Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography in 1845. He rewrote this in 1881 as The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. The book has since become a classic of American literature and a source of inspiration to countless American youths.
The South's most celebrated author is William Faulkner who told stories of a mythical Mississippi county called Yoknapatawpha. The 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury is a most powerful tale of the South's decline, partially narrated by a mentally impaired man named Benjy Compson.
Zora Neale Hurston recorded as much of the cultural experience of black Americans in the South Eastern United States as she was able. Her most acclaimed novel was her 1937 work Their Eyes Were Watching God. The story is that of a woman named Janie who struggles to find equal treatment of others. For a time she has this, but the story ends tragically.
Harper Lee leaped into the spotlight with her 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This Pulitzer Prize-winning story is told from the perspective of a six-year-old girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape. Despite the lawyer's ability to prove the accused is innocent, the man is still found guilty and is killed in jail.
Little Big Man is a fictitious autobiography told by an 111-year-old white man, "recorded" by Thomas Berger in 1964. This novel mythically sweeps up the whole of the Cheyenne Nation's history into the life of an abducted white boy who grew up "Indian."
Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family was published in 1976. The novel told the tale of an African-American family through seven generations. It was a runaway best-seller inspiring many blacks and whites alike to try and fill in the genealogical gaps of their own family.
Gaines's 1993 National Book Critics Circle Award-winner
is considered by many to be his best work. This novel begins as a young black man is sentenced to death for his unwitting involvement in a robbery where a white store owner is killed. A black teacher reluctantly takes on the task of helping this uneducated convict learn to "die like a man."