Famous Black Novelists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lorain, Ohio
Died: August 5, 2019
Author, editor, and Princeton professor Toni Morrison is best remembered for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, part of a trilogy. Some of her other notable works include The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon. She received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. She also wrote several children’s books and plays.

 2 Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe.
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Famous As: Nigerian novelist
Birthdate: November 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ogidi, Nigeria Protectorate
Died: March 21, 2013

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian poet, novelist, professor, and critic. Often described as Africa's greatest storyteller, Achebe is widely regarded as the father of modern African writing. He was the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Man Booker International Prize 2007. His novel Things Fall Apart is one of the most read books in Africa.

 3 James Baldwin

James Baldwin.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 1, 1987

Amongst the greatest writers of the 20th century and a leading literary voice in the civil rights movement, James Baldwin extensively explored issues like race, sexuality and humanity in his work. His best known work include his debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and his books of essays Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name.

 4 Ralph Waldo Ellison

Ralph Waldo Ellison.
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 1, 1914
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Died: April 16, 1994

 5 Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes.
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Famous As: Poet, Novelist, Playwright, & Columnist
Birthdate: February 1, 1902
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died: May 22, 1967

Langston Hughes is best remembered as a prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the first to write jazz poetry. He also wrote plays and short stories. He was a columnist for The Chicago Defender and wrote the iconic poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

 6 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Enugu, Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer and feminist. She is popular for writing novels, such as Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. She is credited with popularizing African literature among a new generation of readers, especially in the United States. In 2015, she was named in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.

 7 Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston.
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Famous As: Folklorist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

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 8 Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler.
4
Famous As: Science Fiction Writer
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States
Died: February 24, 2006

One of the finest African-American sci-fi authors, Octavia Butler was raised single-handedly by her widowed mother. Best known for the Patternist series and the short story Bloodchild, she often mingled mythology and spirituality in her work. She was the first sci-fi author to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

 9 N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 19, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.

N. K. Jemisin became the first writer to win the Hugo Best Novel award thrice consecutively and is best known for her Inheritance trilogy and her Broken Earth series. The African-American author is also a trained psychologist and has worked as a counsellor in several universities.

 10 Sister Souljah

Sister Souljah
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 28, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York City, United States

 11 Judy Smith

Judy Smith
3
Famous As: Crisis manager
Birthdate: October 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 12 Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 6, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.

 13 John Ridley

John Ridley
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Famous As: Screenwriter
Birthdate: September 30, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

 14 Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 11, 1969
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York (state) New York, U.S.

 15 Claude McKay

Claude McKay.
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 15, 1889
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Clarendon Parish
Died: May 22, 1948

Claude McKay was a poet who played an influential role in the Harlem Renaissance. Remembered for his work If We Must Die, a poem written in response to mob attacks on African-American communities by white Americans, McKay was named the national poet of Jamaica in 1977. For his contribution to literature, he was posthumously honored with the Order of Jamaica.

 16 Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar.
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: June 27, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Died: February 9, 1906

 17 Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: 1989 AD
Birthplace: Mampong, Ghana

 18 Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Micheaux.
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 2, 1884
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Metropolis, Illinois, United States
Died: March 25, 1951

 19 Ben Okri

Ben Okri
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Famous As: Writer, Journalist, Novelist, Author, Poet
Birthdate: March 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Minna, Nigeria

 20 Buchi Emecheta

Buchi Emecheta
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Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Sociologist, Playwright, Editor, Children's writer
Birthdate: July 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yaba Department
Died: January 25, 2017

 21 Ernie Barnes

Ernie Barnes
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: July 15, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Durham, North Carolina, United States
Died: April 27, 2009

 22 Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 13, 1891
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Died: March 30, 1964

 23 Ishmael Reed

Ishmael Reed
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 22, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States

 24 Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 2006

 25 Ousmane Sembène

Ousmane Sembène
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Famous As: Senegalese film director
Birthdate: January 1, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ziguinchor, Casamance, Senegal
Died: June 9, 2007

 26 Chester Himes

Chester Himes
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 29, 1909
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jefferson City, Missouri,United States
Died: November 12, 1984

 27 Stanley Crouch

Stanley Crouch
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Famous As: Musician, Novelist, Writer, Music critic, Journalist
Birthdate: December 14, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 28 Charles W. Chesnutt

Charles W. Chesnutt
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 20, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: November 17, 1932

 29 E. R. Braithwaite

E. R. Braithwaite
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 27, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Georgetown, Guyana
Died: December 12, 2016

 30 Tayeb Salih

Tayeb Salih.
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Al Dabbah, Sudan
Died: February 18, 2009

One of the most influential Sudanese authors, Tayeb Salih was born into a farming community and had thus aspired to work in agriculture. However, he became a journalist later and worked with al Majalla and BBC. His works such as The Wedding of Zein mirror the intricacies of African life.

 31 Mbongeni Ngema

Mbongeni Ngema
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

A South African Zulu, Mbongeni Ngema worked as a manual laborer and a guitarist before venturing into theater and then becoming a playwright and a director. While he created controversy with his play Asinamali!, he gained international repute with Sarafina! He was also a choir director for The Lion King.

 32 Toni Cade Bambara

Toni Cade Bambara
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 25, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 9, 1995

 33 William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown
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Famous As: Writer, Historian, Novelist
Birthdate: November 6, 1814
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lexington
Died: November 6, 1884

 34 Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah.
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Baidoa

Nuruddin Farah is a Somali novelist best known for his book, From a Crooked Rib. Widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of his generation, Farah has received several prestigious awards, such as the Kurt Tucholsky Prize, Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and Lettre Ulysses Award. Nuruddin Farah has also received several nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

 35 Gabriel Okara

Gabriel Okara
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 24, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bomoundi, Niger Delta, Nigeria
Died: March 25, 2019

 36 Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

 37 E. Lynn Harris

E. Lynn Harris
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, United States
Died: July 23, 2009

 38 Mariama Bâ

Mariama Bâ
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dakar, Senegal
Died: August 17, 1981

 39 John Edgar Wideman

John Edgar Wideman
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 14, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 40 Yasmina Khadra

Yasmina Khadra
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Famous As: Writer, Novelist
Birthdate: January 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kénadsa

 41 Edward P. Jones

Edward P. Jones
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: 1951 AD
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 42 Gloria Naylor

Gloria Naylor
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 25, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: September 28, 2016

 43 June Jordan

June Jordan
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: June 14, 2002

 44 Peter Abrahams

Peter Abrahams
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 3, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vrededorp
Died: January 18, 2017

 45 Dany Laferrière

Dany Laferrière
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 13, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

 46 Amos Tutuola

Amos Tutuola
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 20, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Died: June 8, 1997

 47 Dambudzo Marechera

Dambudzo Marechera
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 4, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rusape, Zimbabwe
Died: August 18, 1987

 48 Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 28, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Takoradi, Ghana

 49 Wallace Thurman

Wallace Thurman
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: December 22, 1934

 50 Camara Laye

Camara Laye
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 1, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kouroussa, Guinea
Died: February 4, 1980