Best-Selling Fiction Books about Racism – Part 1: USA

Panhuman Books — February 6, 2023

Casual racism refers to unfavorable attitudes and beliefs about race or ethnicity that are interconnected, held by a variety of individuals and groups there, and that have manifested themselves in American history in the form of violent acts, laws, practices, and other forms of discrimination against an ethnic or racial background. Following George Floyd's killing and the 2020 summer racial coming to terms, sales of books regarding racial oppression skyrocketed. 


by Yaa Gyasi

As race remains a contentious issue in the United States, the variables that influence how race is characterized and discussed are more powerful than before. Since these institutions serve to maintain colonialism and slavery, every character in Homegoing experiences racism at some time in their lives. This motif illustrates how even individuals who are regarded as fortunate, like Effia's household, are not exempt from the social ill of racism. The fact that Esi's ancestors are enslaved to slavery makes prejudice toward them more heinous. However, racism is also practiced against Effia's progeny by the British colonizers, albeit a little more covertly.

This is seen by James Collins's denigration of Effia's reproductive ceremony as ''black magic'' and "voodoo" which he used to claim supremacy over other cultures. Even those who are reasonably fortunate are made to feel inferior because of their race, demonstrating how the British and Americans, who are lusting after power and wealth utilize race to maintain their control over society.

The 2017 American Book Awards have announced their sixteen winners, including Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing. After winning the 2017 John Leonard First Book Prize from the National Book Critics Circle and the 2017 PEN Hemingway honor for debut literature, this honor is the third significant award the debut novel has won since its June 2016 release.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

Maya is confronted with the pernicious consequences of racism and discrimination in the United States at a tender age. She embodies the notion that blond hair is lovely and she is an ugly Black girl trapped in a hellish experience. Stamps, Arkansas, is so racially divided that as a child Maya doesn't believe white people exist. Maya experiences more blatant and intimate instances of racism as she ages, including a white speaker's patronizing speech at her eighth-grade baccalaureate, her white boss's persistence in addressing her as Mary, and a white dentist's unwillingness to treat her. The significance of Joe Louis' global championship boxing battle to the Black community highlights the scarcity of African-American heroes who are widely acknowledged. It also illustrates the desperation with which the Black community looks to one man's athletic victory for vindication. Maya and her family are constrained and devalued by these unfair social conditions. She discovers how her family members' personalities have been deeply impacted by the demands of living in a blatantly prejudiced society, and she works to overcome them.

Even though I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was not given the National Book Award in 1970, the book and its author were given the Literarian Award by the National Book Foundation in 2013.

The Bluest Eye

by Toni Morrison

Protagonists who belong to the Black community are compelled to accept the label of  ''outsiders'' or "others" that the white community has bestowed on them. Blacks then ascribe this position to other members of the Black community who have lighter skin tones. Characters in this book start to feel inferior and accept the bigotry that these people are presenting. They suffer psychologically from the stereotype, sometimes to the point of going insane. 

Pecola Breedlove is the character that experiences racism the most. Numerous forms of racism shape Pecola Breedlove's personality. Pecola thinks that having blue eyes is the only chance she will ever be stunning. The 1970s, when this narrative takes place, were a time when African-Americans were treated as social outcasts. Because of their appearance, they were frequently exploited and dehumanized, and this had long-lasting effects. Americans frequently believe that having white traits, such as a pale complexion, blue eyes, and a highly feminine demeanor, is the only way to be beautiful.

Important honors include the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Paris, 1994), the Pearl Buck Award (1994), the 1978 Distinguished Writer Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 1996 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Racism figures prominently in the book's key topics. Racism and destitution were pervasive during the Great Depression. Dark-skinned people, like African-Americans, were seen negatively and treated like garbage. It is portrayed by Harper Lee in a very realistic manner. Characters like Atticus teach us how one individual can change his circumstances if he has good values, even though most of Maycomb feels unfavorable and discriminates against African-Americans. He made sure that his offspring didn't treat others differently solely because of their skin color, even though he couldn't alter the attitudes of the other residents.

Even the book's opening chapters contain examples of racism. These racist remarks made by children who are not racists are typical of the environment in which they grew up. When Atticus embarks on a matter in which an African-American individual has been charged with raping a white girl and Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, the alleged rapist, racism is most overt in the book. Tom Robinson, the nice, humble, and physically handicapped Black man charged with the rape is the victim of several racist slurs and is frequently called the N-word by irate white town residents.

To Kill a Mockingbird was stunned when it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, during its 41st week on the market for some time. In the same year, it also received the National Conference of Christians and Jews' Brotherhood Award, and in 1962, Bestsellers magazine's Paperback of the Year award.

An American Marriage

by Tayari Jones

Due to prejudice in the American court system against Black men, Roy is wrongfully convicted of rape. Further than the aged woman's testimony, who subsequently acknowledges that she was too distraught to provide a reliable testimony, there is no other proof against him. An American Marriage, whose characters are incarcerated for offenses they did not commit, highlights the damaging effects racism has on individuals. It also illustrates how deeply embedded racial prejudice is in America. Roy's false guilty verdict doesn't come as much of a surprise because the protagonists were well aware of the predominance of institutionalized racism.

An American Marriage received Aspen Words Prize and the Women's Prize for Fiction.

Take My Hand

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

A young nurse with aspirations of making a difference in her community visits a clinic in Alabama and becomes a part of the lives of two young Black girls who are first caught in the web of rural poverty and later thrust into the national spotlight as a result of the clinic's treatment of them coming to light.

Dolen Perkins-Valdez was a contestant for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction as well as two NAACP Image Awards in 2011. She subsequently received the First Novelist Award from the American Library Association's Black Caucus.