African American authors like Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston wrote books that became high-points in 20th century literature. Their work remains relevant and compelling. Today, another generation of African American authors is being acclaimed for creating original and challenging writing. Colson Whitehead leads the way by winning awards. The Underground Railroad won the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and he won the Pulitzer Prize again in 2020 for The Nickel Boys.
This list celebrates African American writers from both the past and present.