One of my favorite pasttimes continues to be curling up with a good book and getting lost in its pages. I have to admit that I am a little bias in my reading selections. I read mostly African American fiction and I have my favorite authors, whose books I reread often. I am in the process of rereading the Vampire Huntress Series by the late L. A. Banks. I enjoy spending time with the characters. Reading provides a way for me to get caught up in someone else’s world for a short time. There are some books you pick up, that you can’t put down and if you do, you feel it calling you. Then there are others, that pull you in so deep, you find yourself crying real tears at the joy and sorrows experienced by the protagonist or even in some cases, the antagonist. Then there are others that make you laugh out loud and make you start signifing because they are speaking the truth! (Can you tell I really get into what I’m reading?)
Well, during my exploration to find books that appealed to me, I came across the genre of African American historical fiction. I know, why does everything have to go back to race when we are all a part of one race – the human race? Well, for me, though we are apart of one main race and I embrace that truth as a Christian, I also have had to embrace my own cultural background and have decided to spend my time on this earth learning more about my ancestors and forebearers who have endured many struggles at the hands of their fairer skinned brothers and sisters. My love affair with history began in college when I discovered African American Studies (AAS). Since then, nearly everything has been about AAS. But don’t get me wrong, I have been know to stray away from that ideology a few times but I always return. So, when I discovered historical fiction where African Americans were the main characters, I grew to love it because it told the good, the bad, the ugly and the horrifying. They didn’t sugar coat the experiences of my people while at the same time highlighting and emphasizing the resilience of the people. This was the part that I embraced the most. That even in the midst of some of the worst treatment endured by human kind, my people still found a way to love, uplift, strive, fight, and hope for a better day. Its that strength that I value and encourages me to learn more about my people, and what better way to do it than through the stories of the lives of the people, even the fictional ones.
Hence the topic at hand, family history in fiction. A few of my favorite African American historical fiction titles deal with these issues, where you follow a family down through the years and learn of their joys, sorrow, trials, tribulation, and jubilations. Here is a list of those that I have read and found to be very good.
- The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman by Ernest Gaines
- Cane River by Lalita Tademy
- Family by J. California Cooper
- Jubilee by Margaret Walker
- A Long Way From Home by Connie Briscoe
- Nowhere is a Place by Bernice McFadden
- Some People, Some Other Place by J. California Cooper
- Wake of the Wind by J. California Cooper
Of course, one can’t talk about family history in fiction and neglect to mention the infamous Roots by Alex Haley and his other book, Queen. Since I didn’t want to just list the ones that I knew, I used a database called Novelist and did some searching to discover a few more. I found quite a few and have even placed one on hold at my local library., one of which I have already placed a hold on at my local library.
- Abraham’s Well by Sharon Ewell Foster
- The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley
- Child of God by Lolita Files
- Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash
- The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers
- In Search of Satisfaction by J. California Cooper
- In the Fall by Lent Jeffrey
- Knee Deep in Water by April Reynolds
- Mama Flora’s Family by Alex Haley
- Red River by Lalita Tademy
- Sapphire’s Grave by Hilda Gurley-Highgate
- Some Sing, Some Cryby Ntozake Shange
- Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- Starlight Passageby Anita Bunkley
- The Weddingby Dorothy West
These are just a few that I thought looked interesting. Post a comment with other titles that you think might be worth a look. One quick thing – if you don’t have an active library card, you should run to your nearest library and learn about the vast amount of resources it has available. You never know, the local library could save you a pretty penny while helping you to make more money. That’s my PSA in the mist of the Blog. I hope you will pick up at least one of these titles or one like it in the near future. Remember, there’s nothing like curling up with a good book.