Celebrate Black Literature: Peggy Terry Recommends 2018 Reads

As we continue adding to our 2018 TBR lists (and wondering feverishly when we’ll ever sleep again), friends and fellow readers keep giving us more forthcoming titles to add. This fantastic list of recommended titles being published in 2018 comes from Peggy Terry, an Austinite, long-time avid reader, and one of the Texas Book Festival’s Community Ambassadors.

In addition to her work in human resources, Terry is an integral part of many community organizations: she’s been a Texas Book Festival volunteer since 2014 and has been active with the Austin African American Book Festival since its start in 2007. She is also a founding member of Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society in 1993 and has been the co-chair “for over a decade (or two).”

Happy reading, y’all!

Above: Peggy Terry (center, wearing grey) with the Folktales Black Women’s Literary Society in November, 2017


Returning authors:

Down the River Unto the Sea – Walter Mosley 2/20/18.

Mosley introduces a new character – Joe King Oliver.  Oliver has been forced off the New York police force.  Now he works as a private detective.  He receives a card in the mail with information about the case that framed him.

American Histories: Stories – John Edgar Wideman 3/20/18

In this singular collection, John Edgar Wideman, the acclaimed author of Writing to Save a Life, blends the personal, historical, and political to invent complex, charged stories about love, death, struggle, and what we owe each other. With characters ranging from everyday Americans to Jean-Michel Basquiat to Nat Turner, American Histories is a journey through time, experience, and the soul of our country.


Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave – Zora Neale Hurston  5/8/18

Hurston’s previously unpublished work.  Compiled in 1931, Ms. Hurston records Cudjo’s story providing a first hand account of memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.


A View of the Empire at Sunset – Caryl Phillips 5/22/18.

A biographical novel of the life of Jean Rhys, the author of Wide Sargasso Sea.

Raisins in MilkDavid Covin 6/1/18

This is a coming of age novel of a Black girl, Ruth-Ann Weathering, born in Mandarin Florida in 1900. It traces events from 1913 – 1920.

On the Come Up – Angie Thomas 6/5/18

Follow up novel to The Hate U Give.   Ms. Thomas returns to the world of Garden Heights for a story about an aspiring teen rapper and what happens when you get everything you thought you wanted.

Praise Song for the Butterflies – Bernice McFadden 7/3/18

A contemporary story that offers an educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa.


Chariot on the Mountain – Jack Ford 7/31/18

Story based on little-known true events.  Slaves set free but are dragged back a gang of slave catchers. Kitty, the emancipated slave, goes to court charging her cousin (the slave owner’s nephew and leader of the slave catchers) with kidnapping and assault.



Survival Math: Notes of an All American Family – Mitchell Jackson 8/14/18

Combination of an autobiographical tale mixed with an examination of cultural forces.  Jackson presents a microcosm of struggle and survival in contemporary urban America.

Black Leopard, Red WolfMarlon James, Fall, 2018

This will be the first of three fantasy novels and James calls it an African GAME OF THRONES.



These re-releases of previously published books give us a great opportunity to re-read works of a bygone time.

Not Without Laughter – Langston Hughes (originally published 1930)  1/16/18

Our greatest African American poet’s award-winning first novel, about a black boy’s coming-of-age in a largely white Kansas town

Black No More – George Schuyler (originally published 1931)  1/16/18

The landmark comic satire that asks, “What would happen if all black people in America turned white?”



The Blacker the Berry – Wallace Thurman (originally published 1929)  1/16/18

The Blacker the Berry was the first novel to openly address color prejudice among black Americans when released in 1929.



Dessa Rose – Sherley Williams (originally published 1986)  1/16/18

In 1829, in Kentucky, a pregnant black woman helped lead an uprising of a group of slaves headed to the market for sale. She was sentenced to death, but her hanging was delayed until after the birth of her baby. In North Carolina in1830, a white woman living on an isolated farm was reported to have given sanctuary to runaway slaves. In Dessa Rose, Sherley A. Williams asks the question: “What if these two women met?”

The Darkest Child – Delores Philips (originally published 2004)  1/30/18

Tangy Mae is the 6th of 10 fatherless children.  She is the darkest–and in her mother’s eye, the ugliest.  Her mother pulls each one from school to earn money to support her.  But Tangy is smart and has been chosen to help integrate the local high school.

Iola Leroy, or, Shadows Uplifted – Frances Harper (originally published 1892)  2/28/18.

Iola lived a life of comfort until the death of her father when she learns that she is of mixed race and is sold into slavery.  With the end of the Civil War, Ms. Leroy devotes her life to the uplift of the Black race.


Wild Card – other books I am most looking forward to:

May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem – Imani Perry 2/19/18

Imani Perry tells the story of the Black National Anthem as it traveled from South to North, from civil rights to black power, and from countless family reunions to Carnegie Hall and the Oval Office.


A Perilous Path: Talking Race, Inequality, and the Law Sherrilyn Ifill,‎ Loretta Lynch,‎ Bryan Stevenson,‎ Anthony C. Thompson

Ifill is the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  Lynch was President Barack Obama’s Attorney General.  Stevenson is a best selling author (Just Mercy), MacArthur Fellow and death penalty lawyer. This book is short, but it should be a fun read.



The President is Missing – Bill Clinton & James Patterson 6/4/18

The White House is the home of the President of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a U.S. President vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so?

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower – Brittney Cooper 2/20/18.

This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again.

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen – Sarah Bird 9/4/18

Previously a slave, Cathy Williams rejected the life of servitude she would have had as a woman at the end of the Civil War, disguised herself as a man, and enlisted with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson 6/5/18

The mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth.


Martin Luther King Jr. Related:


Martin Rising: A Requiem for a King – Andrea Davis Pinkney, Author, Brian Pinkney, Illustrator.  1/2/18

Pinkney covers the final months of Martin Luther King’s life—and of his assassination—through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayered meaning.


A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History – Jeanne Theoharis 1/30/18

Explodes the fables that have been created about the civil rights movement.

The Heavens Might Crack: The Death of Martin Luther King Jr. – Jason Sokol 3/20/18

A vivid portrait of how Americans grappled with King’s death and legacy in the days, weeks, and months after his assassination

Redemption: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last 31 Hours – Joseph Rosenblum  3/27/18

An “immersive, humanizing, and demystifying” (Charles Blow, New York Times) look at the final hours of Dr. King’s life as he seeks to revive the non-violent civil rights movement and push to end poverty in America.


The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age – Patrick Parr 4/1/18

This work is the first definitive, full-length account of King’s years as a divinity student at Crozer Theological Seminary.



To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Fight for Economic Justice – Michael Honey 4/3/18

This work challenges us to think about what it would mean to truly fulfill King’s legacy and move toward his vision of “the Promised Land” in our own time

Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Social Gospel – Gary Dorrien 1/9/18

Dorrien’s work centers around King and the mid-twentieth-century Black church leaders who embraced the progressive, justice-oriented, internationalist social gospel from the beginning of their careers and fulfilled it, inspiring and leading America’s greatest liberation movement.





Black Panther: The Young Prince – Ronald K. Smith  1/2/18

T’Challa has been sent from Wakanda by his father to the South Side Middle School in Chicago.  When strange things begin happening around the school, T’Challa starts down the path to becoming the Black Panther.



Marley Dias Gets It Done (and So Can You!) – Marley Dias 1/30/18

Marley Dias explores activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, and using social media for good.

Strange Fruit, Volume II: More Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History – Joel Christian Gill 2/1/18

A collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity.

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi 3/6/18

Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut novel.

Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles 3/20/18

This debut novel tells the story of twin brothers who go to a party that ends with one of them dead at the hands of a police officer.  The surviving twin must cope with the death, help his mother, and learn what justice really means.



The Parker Inheritance – Varian Johnson 3/27/18

A mystery is explored when the granddaughter finds a letter to her grandmother who left town in shame.  A boy from across the street helps in deciphering the story.



Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood – James Baldwin 8/24/18

This re-released picture book is James Baldwin’s only children’s book, depicting the environment and daily life of two boys coming of age in Harlem.

After the Shot Drops – Randy Ribay 3/6/18.

A powerful novel about friendship, basketball, and one teen’s mission to create a better life for his family

The Beauty That Remains – Ashley Woodfolk 3/6/18

Told from three diverse points of view, this debut novel tells a story of life and love after loss.