Brief History of African American Literature. Part 4. Current Trends

After the Civil Rights Movement, African American literature evolved to include various topics of interest. In the past, the genre focused on oppression, the promotion of self-identity, and political consciousness. However, in the 1970's, African American authors began to write about various topics, such as urban life, marriage, friendships, family, mysteries, and more.These topics were usually written from the viewpoint of an African American living in today's society. African American literature also began reaching mainstream audiences in the 1970's. There are currently many different ethnic groups reading African American literature, and there are many literature titles that have won prizes or recognition. This has led to African American literature being accepted as noteworthy by mainstream America. 

Even though African American literature has been accepted by mainstream society, it is still a viable and integral part of Black American culture. Many African Americans find the writing styles and characters reflect their experiences, and are more likely to relate to the stories being told within the genre. Many African American authors write fictional or non-fictional works, and write for people from birth to adulthood. In fact, a rapidly expanding subset of African American literature is young adult fiction. Teens and other interested readers can peruse books that feature Black characters and discuss issues that affect teens, such as family life, school, violence, teen parenting, and more. Even though, African American literature continues to receive recognition in today's society, there is controversy concerning the subject matter, language, and genre of some of the works.

One particular aspect of African American literature that has drawn controversy is urban fiction. Urban fiction is unique because the  story is set in highly populated African American communities in large urban cities that are often plagued with detrimental issues such as poverty, substance abuse, prostitution, teenage pregnancy, and single parenting. Characters in urban fiction often use language that is considered profane and vulgar to some, but authors typically use the language to help portray the realistic environment and issues that the characters are experiencing. However, many people do enjoy urban fiction as it portrays urban life.

If you're interested in reading contemporary African American literature, here's a sampling of titles! Check our branches for location and availability:

Beloved, opens a new window

A Sister's Secret, opens a new window

One House Over, opens a new window

One Winter's Night, opens a new window

The Hate U Give, opens a new window

Hair Love, opens a new window

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, opens a new window

On the Corner of Hope and Main, opens a new window

Lady J, opens a new window

Courtin' Jayd, opens a new window

Greed, opens a new window

Mama's Boy, opens a new window


African American Literature. New World Encyclopedia

African American Literature. 2007 School Wikipedia Selection.