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The Best Short Stories by African American Authors

I cannot even tell you how long it has been since I picked up a collection of short stories (seriously…it’s pretty embarrassing). But I have always loved diving into a good short story. Filled with symbolism and a conclusion that doesn’t take 300 pages to get to, they are a true literary snack. Or in some cases like, Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers 1967 to the Present, a great meal.

To be truthful – I don’t think I have ever read a collection of short stories from beginning to end in the order they are arranged. I always end up skipping around, picking which stories to read by title, subject or author. The same is true with my latest read.

Cover for Children of the Night

The stories included in Children of the Night were compiled by Gloria Naylor and written during a nearly 30-year period (1967-1995), but the themes reflected, including slavery, segregation, post civil-rights life and family, cover hundreds of years of African American history.

While hard to choose, my favorite stories in the collection are “New York Day Women” by Edwidge Danticat, which is a glimpse into a woman’s relationship with her mother, while she learns more about her matriarch (from 1995, it’s one of the most recent stories in the collection) and “Steady Going Up” by Maya Angelou, where a man looks back on his family’s past while facing his present life. Another very interesting tale was “Louisiana: 1850” by Jewelle Gomez (spoiler alert: vampires!).

The works in this book are rich in beauty, pain, hope and a whole range of emotions in between. Whether you read it cover to cover, or skip around like me, it is definitely worth a read.

-Allison C.

Explore more short stories by Black authors

Find an anthology in the catalog

Allison works at CLP – Main in the External and Government Relations Department as a Development Associate. She enjoys long walks, good books and bad reality television.

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