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A shelf’s worth of books by Florida’s black authors

With books related to race packing bestseller lists, here are some with connections to the state.
The latest book by Miami author Edwidge Danticat is the award-winning "Everything Inside."
The latest book by Miami author Edwidge Danticat is the award-winning "Everything Inside." [ Knopf ]
Published Jun. 17, 2020|Updated Jun. 17, 2020

As marchers filled the nation’s streets in the past month in support of Black Lives Matter, books about race filled the nation’s bestseller lists.

Some of those bestsellers have connections to Florida. Ibram X. Kendi was a history professor at the University of Florida in 2016 when he published his National Book Award-winning Stamped From the Beginning. Colson Whitehead’s stunning novel The Nickel Boys, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is based on the all-too-real story of the Florida School for Boys.

Here are more books by black authors with Florida connections.

Edwidge Danticat, Everything Inside: Stories. This gorgeous, moving 2019 short story collection by the Haitian-born, Miami-based author won the Story Prize, the Vilchek Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

Related: A review of Edwidge Danticat's "Everything Inside."

Zora Neale Hurston, Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick. Hurston died in 1960, but this collection of some of her early short stories was first published this year. Like her best-known novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, many of the stories are set in Florida, where she grew up.

Tananarive Due, My Soul to Keep. The Tallahassee-born Due is a prolific author of horror, fantasy, speculative fiction, historical fiction and nonfiction. This 1997 book is the first of four in her supernatural suspense African Immortals series.

Leonard Pitts, Grant Park. Many readers know Pitts as an incisive columnist for the Miami Herald, but he writes fiction as well. This fast-paced 2015 thriller is the story of a black newspaper columnist and his white editor caught up in a terrorist plot by white supremacists.

Erica Dawson, When Rap Spoke Straight to God. Dawson directs the creative writing MFA program at the University of Tampa. This 2018 book, all one incantatory wave of a poem that seems to sweep up much of the world, won the Florida Book Awards gold medal for poetry.

Ladee Hubbard, The Talented Ribkins. Hubbard grew up in Florida, and her knowledge of the state and its history shine in this 2017 novel about a group of black friends with unusual powers on a road trip through the state.

Related: A review of Ladee Hubbard's "The Talented Ribkins."

Ravi Howard, Driving the King. Howard, who teaches in the creative writing program at Florida State University, makes the great singer Nat King Cole a central character in this historical novel set in the 1950s.

Rosalie Peck and Jon Wilson, St. Petersburg’s Historic African American Neighborhoods and St. Petersburg’s Historic 22nd Street South. These books by two local authors (Peck is black, Wilson white) document the history of St. Petersburg’s black community in words and photographs.

Ersula Knox Odom, African Americans of Tampa. This photo-rich history of Tampa’s black community stretches all the way back to the capture of Fort Brooke by African American soldiers during the Civil War.


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