7 Classic Novels From People Of Color For Back-To-School Reading

7 Classic Novels From People Of Color For Back-To-School Reading

By: Meagan Cahuasqui -

When you think of the classics, chances are you're thinking of your high school required reading. From Jane Austen to Shakespeare, classics are often associated with writers of European descent. Here are some classics that come from people of color and different cultures.

Are you looking for great books to start the school year on the right foot? Try these masterpieces written by these legendary authors.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

book classics from people of color@books_paper_pencilMárquez was a famous Colombian novelist and short story writer. One Hundred Years of Solitude (in its original Spanish, Cien años de soledad) is a classic novel that helped define the magical realism style prevalent in many Latinx writers’ work. It’s the story of one family as they discover how to balance the need for solitude and love.

Clotel: or, The President's Daughter by William Wells Brown

book classics from people of color@mercurysplatterBrown, a well-known African-American novelist, playwright, and abolitionist, wrote this novel during a time when it was still rumored that Thomas Jefferson had fathered a child with one of his slaves. This classic book follows the story of Clotel, a slave who escapes to freedom after the slaveholder who took her impregnated her. She goes back into Virginia disguised as a white man to rescue the daughter who was left behind.

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Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

book classics from people of color@neil_yazzieSilko is a writer from the Laguna Pueblo tribe. Her classic novel Ceremony follows the story of Tayo, a survivor as a prisoner of war to the Japanese during World War II. It’s the story of how this young Native American returns to his people’s roots upon returning to his reservation, in an attempt to heal and avoid the despair his peers fell victim to.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

book classics from people of color@joaossteixeiraHailed as the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji is a classic romance novel that follows court life in medieval Japan. First published in 1008, this classic book has maintained a literary reputation thanks to its beautiful poetry intertwined with prose.

The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights by Unknown

book classics from people of color@thebookboyThe tales of Arabian Nights are well-known, and have remained in the literary canon since the year 800. While we don’t know who originally wrote them, we do know the narrative that Shahrazad, wife of the king, notorious for killing his wives after one night of marriage, saved her life by keeping him entranced with a new tale each night.

Complete Writings by Phillis Wheatley

book classics from people of color@byuspeccollArriving on a slave ship in Boston in 1761, Wheatley went on to become the first professional African-American poet, as well as the first African-American woman whose writing was published. This collection of poems and letters shows how Wheatley anticipated the Romantic Movement, most commonly associated with Lord Byron.

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen by Liliuokalani

book classics from people of color@armchairadventuresFrom Queen Liliuokalani herself, the only queen regent and last monarch of Hawaii’s kingdom before the United States took over the territory, comes the true story of the island’s difficult history at the end of the 19th century. It was originally written as a plea for justice, calling for the U.S.’s unjust annexation to be overturned.

Cover photo by @stephanie.flk

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