The 15 Best Works of Fiction by Black Authors in 2014

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Hope Wabuke of The Root has chosen 15 literary gems published in 2014 representing the full range of the African Diaspora. Here are the Caribbean selections. Follow the link below for the full list of 15.

How do you speak when you speak of our literature? Do you say “African-American authors” and leave out the brilliant work of Zadie Smith, Helen Oyeyemi and countless others who are African but not American? Do you say “writers of African descent” and ignore the legacy of Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, Tiphanie Yanique and other writers from the Caribbean? Do you say “black authors” without pause to think about how this term relates to authors from Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries who are black but who identify as Latino?

Any terminology is inherently flawed, just as any “best of” list is inherently flawed, by necessity forcing unequal comparisons and leaving out beautiful, important voices. There were many impressive books written by our people this past year, but here, from a list of more than 200 novels, we highlight 15 books that stunned for specific reasons of their own.


In her powerful, sensitive prose, Gay delivers the suspenseful tale of Mirelle Duval Jameson, a young wife and mother kidnapped on a visit to her Haitian homeland and held for a ransom that her wealthy father refuses to pay. Here, Gay looks unflinchingly at the violence inflicted on women’s bodies that are used as pawns in the games of men. How does one recover after an act of such brutality, asks An Untamed State? How does one balance the lightness of life before trauma with the weight of life afterward? A necessary, important read.


This third novel by Jamaican-born James centers on the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley, the patron saint of his homeland and of many socially conscious justice seekers worldwide. In an effort to do right by Marley’s far-reaching influence, A Brief History of Seven Killings stretches from an examination of Jamaican politics, race and class issues, and ghetto gang wars to the niceties of U.S.-Caribbean relations, including the role of the CIA in overthrowing the Jamaican government in the 1970s while flooding the black-populated inner cities in the U.S. with crack. Epic in scope and detailed in execution, this novel is a scintillating, postmodern masterwork.


Euona Bradshaw is the favorite daughter of wealthy Virgin Islands shipping captain Owen Bradshaw. She has been groomed to be a desired debutante, married to another wealthy man. But she has a secret: Her whole life, she has been the recipient of her father’s sexual attentions. And with her parents’ death, teenage Euona must somehow find a way to take care of her younger sister and half-brother. With underpinnings of magical realism, The Land of Love and Drowning sprawls into an exquisitely multilayered epic novel told with Yanique’s trademark attention to the fine details of character.

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