Celebrate Black Literature: Evelyn Palfrey’s recommended reads

Join us in celebrating black literature! The Texas Book Festival recognizes Black History Month by highlighting black Texas authors, readers, and contributors to the literary community and asking them to share some of their favorite black-authored works. This sharing of past and current books the reader has loved aims to enrich not only our TBR piles, but also our often-too-narrow canon of black literature.

You can view all installments in this series here.

Today’s list of recommended books, which spans several genres, comes from Texas author Evelyn Palfrey, who is the author of five romance novels—Three Perfect MenThe Price of PassionDangerous DilemmasEverything In Its Place and Going Homeas well as essays in two Chicken Soup releases. Evelyn is also an avid gardener and motorhomer.


I write romantic suspense for the ‘marvelously mature.’ That’s folk with a little gray at the temple, and a little fullness in places that used to be flat. But I always was, and remain, an inveterate reader. Although I write romance for the love of happy endings, I read all over the place. I LOVE sci-fi, and wish I could write it. I have read so many wonderful books, by so many accomplished writers, that it is incredibly hard to narrow down to a few, but here goes.

Night Song – Beverly Jenkins

This was the first historical romance I read with an African-American hero/heroine. A Buffalo soldier courts a school marm. Ms. Jenkins went on to publish quite a few historical romances, as well as some contemporaries–and I have read them all. What I love about her historical novels is that they provide thoroughly-researched details of the era of human enslavement in America, and told from the perspective of enslaved people and freed people.

Kindred – Octavia Butler

Consummate and much-awarded sci-fi writer. I have enjoyed all of her books, but this one is my favorite. A modern African-American woman is abruptly transported from her Los Angeles home to the Antebellum South to save a White boy—over and over. She couldn’t predict it, nor affect it. I marveled at how careful she had to be because whatever she was touching when transported–including her husband–would go with her.

After – Marita Golden

After working in the criminal justice system for years, and watching coverage of so many police shootings of unarmed Black men, I thought I knew this story. Was I in for a surprise. Assumptions turned on their heads.

Before I Forget – Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This, his first novel, was released at the same time that my family was embarking on a journey with a loved one suffering from early onset Alzheimers. I had enjoyed his newspaper columns for years, so naturally I was drawn to the novel. It realistically deals with three generations of Black men, their relationships to each other as fathers and sons, and to the women in their lives, against the backdrop of social and economic issues of their times.

In Search of Satisfaction – J. California Cooper

I just picked this title, but all of her books have left me hungry for more.