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Racial Equity and Social Justice

Materials selected by IU librarians and members of our community
Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928)

Quicksand

First novel, with autobiographical elements, by Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen. Originally published in 1928.

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James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin's first, semi-autobiographical novel. Originally published in 1953.

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Amiri Baraka, System of Dante's Hell (1965)

The System of Dante's Hell

1965 novel about Black protest by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones). E-book.

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Frankétienne, Dézafi (1975)

Dézafi

Zombie novel by Haitian writer Frankétienne. Originally published in Haitian Creole in 1975. 

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Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979)

*Kindred

Historical and fantasy novel by Octavia Butler in which a twentieth-century Black woman is transported to antebellum Maryland. Originally published in 1979.

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Toni Cade Bambara, Salt Eaters (1980)

The Salt Eaters

Experimental novel about a Southern Black community by Toni Cade Bambara. Published in 1980.

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Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

*The Color Purple

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker telling the story of two sisters through their correspondence. Originally published in 1982.

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Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (1983)

Parable of the Sower

Post-apocalyptic science fiction novel from 1983. By Octavia Butler.

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Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

*Beloved

By popular demand: Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about slavery and enslavement. First published in 1987.

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Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go To Birmingham--1963 (1995)

*The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

A family takes a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama, at the height of the civil rights movement. Novel by Christopher Paul Curtis first published in 1995. 

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Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange (1997)

Tropic of Orange

Satirical social novel by Japanese American author Karen Tei Yamashita. Originally published in 1997.

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Edward P. Jones, The Known World (2003)

*The Known World

Historical novel from 2003 by Edward P. Jones about a slave in antebellum Virginia who becomes proprietor of his own plantation.

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Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)

*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie's story of a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Novel originally published in 2007.

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Imbolo Mbue, Behold the Dreamers (2016)

*Behold the Dreamers

Prize-winning novel from 2016 about a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York. Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers examines the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on immigrant workers.

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Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (2016)

*Homegoing

Yaa Gyasi's novel tracing a family's history of slavery from both the American and Ghanaian perspectives. First published in 2016.

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Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)

*The Underground Railroad

Prize-winning historical novel by Colson Whitehead published in 2016. A teenage girl attempts to flee from slavery in the pre-Civil War South.

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Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (2017)

*The Hate U Give

Award-winning book for young adults by Angie Thomas about a Black girl whose childhood best friend is killed by a police officer. Published in 2017.

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Min Jin Lee, Pachinko (2017)

*Pachinko

Bestselling family saga by Min Jin Lee about four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family in twentieth-century Japan. Published in 2017.

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Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017)

*Sing, Unburied, Sing

Award-winning novel by Jesmyn Ward telling the story of a family on a journey through rural Mississippi. Published in 2017.

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Tommy Orange, There There (2018)

There There

Award-winning first novel about the history of Native Americans by Tommy Orange. Published in 2018.

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Carolina De Robertis, Cantoras (2019)

Cantoras

2019 novel by Carolina De Robertis about Queer love in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship.

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Jones and Segal, I'm Not Dying with You Tonight (2019)

*I'm Not Dying with You Tonight

Two teen girls confront their own assumptions about racial inequality as they rely on each other to get through a violent race riot. Novel by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal published in 2019. E-book.

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Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown (2020)

Interior Chinatown

Satirical novel by Charles Yu about Asian American stereotypes. Winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction.

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Fariha Róisín, Like a Bird (2020)

Like a Bird

Debut novel about sexual assault by Fariha Róisín. Published in 2020. E-book.

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Bryan Washington, Memorial (2020)

Memorial

Acclaimed debut novel and love story by Bryan Washington. Published in 2020. E-book.

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Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman (2020)

*The Night Watchman

Award-winning 2020 novel by Louise Erdrich based on the life of the author's grandfather, a night watchman at a factory near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota.

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Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half (2020)

*The Vanishing Half

Bestselling novel by Brit Bennett about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one Black and one White. Published in 2020.

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* = community suggestion