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
(Novelist)

Toni Morrison
4
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
(Nigerian novelist)

Chinua Achebe
4
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 

Ralph Waldo Ellison
4
Birthdate: March 1, 1914
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Died: April 16, 1994

 4 
James Baldwin
(Author Best Known for His Novel 'Go Tell It on the Mountain')

James Baldwin
4
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.

 5 
Billy Dee Williams
(Actor, Novelist)

Billy Dee Williams
4
Birthdate: April 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Actor, voice actor, and artist Billy Dee Williams first rose to fame for his role in the Star Wars franchise in the early 1980s. Making his Broadway theater debut as a child actor, he went on to pursue a career as an artist. Eventually, he started acting again and achieved success as both an actor and an artist.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4
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
(Folklorist, Anthropologist)

Zora Neale Hurston
4
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
(Science fiction author)

Octavia Butler
5
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 
Janet Mock
(Writer & Transgender Activist Know for Her Debut Book, The Memoir Redefining Realness, Became a New York Times Bestseller)

Janet Mock
4
Birthdate: March 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

 10 
N. K. Jemisin
(Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer Known for Her 'Inheritance' Trilogy)

N. K. Jemisin
5
Birthdate: September 19, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa, United States

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.

 11 

Sister Souljah
3
Birthdate: January 28, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York City, United States

 12 
Judy Smith
(Crisis manager)

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

 13 
Angie Thomas
(Novelist)

Angie Thomas
3
Birthdate: March 6, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.

 14 
Claude McKay
(Writer)

Claude McKay
3
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.

 15 

Colson Whitehead
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1969
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York (state) New York, U.S.

 16 
John Ridley
(Screenwriter)

John Ridley
3
Birthdate: March 11, 1969, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Paul Laurence Dunbar
3
Birthdate: June 27, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Died: February 9, 1906

 18 

Oscar Micheaux
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1884
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Metropolis, Illinois, United States
Died: March 25, 1951

 19 
Yaa Gyasi
(Novelist)

Yaa Gyasi
4
Birthdate: 1989 AD
Birthplace: Mampong, Ghana

 20 
Ben Okri
(Writer, Journalist, Novelist, Author, Poet)

Ben Okri
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Minna, Nigeria

 21 

Edwidge Danticat
3
Birthdate: January 19, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Apparently, Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, known for books such as Breath, Eyes, Memory, had begun writing to escape the bullying she faced because of her Haitian ways after she moved to the U.S. as a young girl. Although her parents wanted her to study medicine, she took up French literature.

 22 
Nella Larsen
(Author)

Nella Larsen
3
Birthdate: April 13, 1891
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Died: March 30, 1964

 23 

Bebe Moore Campbell
3
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 2006

 24 
Buchi Emecheta
(Writer, Novelist, Sociologist, Playwright, Editor, Children's writer)

Buchi Emecheta
3
Birthdate: July 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yaba Department
Died: January 25, 2017

 25 

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

 26 
Ousmane Sembène
(Senegalese film director)

Ousmane Sembène
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ziguinchor, Casamance, Senegal
Died: June 9, 2007

 27 

Chester Himes
3
Birthdate: July 29, 1909
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jefferson City, Missouri,United States
Died: November 12, 1984

 28 
Stanley Crouch
(Musician, Novelist, Writer, Music critic, Journalist)

Stanley Crouch
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 29 

Jacqueline Woodson
0
Birthdate: February 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States

 30 

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

 31 
Tayeb Salih
(Sudanese Writer Best Known for His Novel 'Season of Migration to the North')

Tayeb Salih
2
Birthdate: July 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Al Dabbah, Sudan
Died: February 19, 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.

 32 
Mbongeni Ngema
(Novelist)

Mbongeni Ngema
3
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.

 33 

Gabriel Okara
2
Birthdate: April 24, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bomoundi, Niger Delta, Nigeria
Died: March 25, 2019

 34 

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

 35 
Ernie Barnes
(Artist)

Ernie Barnes
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Durham, North Carolina, United States
Died: April 27, 2009

 36 

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

 37 
Nuruddin Farah
(Novelist)

Nuruddin Farah
2
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. 

 38 
Maryse Condé
(Novelist)

Maryse Condé
2
Birthdate: February 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

 39 

E. Lynn Harris
2
Birthdate: June 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, United States
Died: July 23, 2009

 40 

Helen Oyeyemi
0
Birthdate: December 10, 1984
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ibadan, Nigeria

 41 

John Edgar Wideman
2
Birthdate: June 14, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 42 
Yasmina Khadra
(Writer, Novelist)

Yasmina Khadra
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kénadsa

 43 
Mariama Bâ
(Writer)

Mariama Bâ
2
Birthdate: April 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dakar, Senegal
Died: August 17, 1981

 44 

June Jordan
2
Birthdate: July 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: June 14, 2002

 45 
Colville Young
(2nd Governor-General of Belize)

Colville Young
0
Birthdate: November 20, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Belize City, Belize

 46 
Edward P. Jones
(Novelist)

Edward P. Jones
2
Birthdate: 1951 AD
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 47 
Gloria Naylor
(Novelist)

Gloria Naylor
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: September 28, 2016

 48 
Wallace Thurman
(Novelist)

Wallace Thurman
2
Birthdate: August 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: December 22, 1934

 49 
Amos Tutuola
(Writer)

Amos Tutuola
2
Birthdate: June 20, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Died: June 8, 1997

 50 
Peter Abrahams
(Novelist)

Peter Abrahams
2
Birthdate: March 3, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vrededorp
Died: January 18, 2017