I am looking for titles set in each US state by authors from that state. Can you help fill the gaps or notify me of egregious omissions? Scroll down for details on the project. Thank you!

One of the most challenging aspects of my Andrea Reads America project has been finding works of fiction set in each state written by non-Caucasian authors who are either from the state or have lived there as a resident. When I wrote about this difficulty in a previous post, Where are the ethnic authors?, several readers asked that I compile a list of the titles I have so far so that they could help fill in the gaps. (Thank you @LissGrunert and The Afro-Librarians for the suggestion. I’m holding you to your offer now.)

As of this posting date, March 12, 2014, I have found non-Caucasian authors from 38 states and the District of Columbia. I lack titles for the remaining 11:

Colorado

Indiana

Maine

Missouri

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

South Carolina

Utah

West Virginia

Wyoming

If you have favorite titles that meet the following criteria, please leave me a note in the comments below (or via Twitter at @andreabadgley) and I will add them to the list. If you know a title set in a specific state but do not know where the writer is from, don’t worry: please give me your titles anyway and I’ll research the author’s background. All genres are welcome:

  • Non-Caucasian author (African-American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, Indian American, etc.)
  • Narrative set in a specific US state
  • Author born in or has lived in the state in which the title is set OR author writes about personal ancestors in the state

Thank you so much for your help, and here we go!

Alabama

Train Whistle Guitar by Albert Murray

(completed: please see Andrea Reads America: Alabama for writeup)

Alaska

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and Survival by Velma Wallis

(completed: please see Andrea Reads America: Alaska for writeup)

Arizona

Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko

La Maravilla by Alfredo Véa, Jr.

(completed: please see Andrea Reads America: Arizona for writeup)

Arkansas

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Janis F. Kearney

Ark of Bones and Other Stories by Henry Dumas

(completed. Please see Andrea Reads America: Arkansas for writeup)

California

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

The Gangster We Are All Looking For by Lê Thi Diem Thúy

The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse

(completed. Please see Andrea Reads America: California for writeup)

Colorado

The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz by Manuel Ramos (added March 23, 2014)

Connecticut

The Narrows: A Novel by Ann Petry

Delaware

I’m On My Way But Your Foot is On My Head by Bertice Berry

District of Columbia

Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones

Florida

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Georgia

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Hawaii

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

House of Thieves by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

Idaho

The Jailing of Cecelia Capture by Janet Campbell Hale

Illinois

Native Son by Richard Wright

Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

Indiana

(no authors of color yet)

Iowa

Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee

Kansas

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

Kentucky

Blackberries, Blackberries by Crystal Wilkinson

Water Street by Crystal Wilkinson

Blacks in Appalachia, edited by William H. Turner (KY) and Edward Cabbell (WV)

Lousiana

Cane River by Lalita Tademy

Maine

(no authors of color yet)

Maryland

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

Massachusetts

The Living is Easy by Dorothy West

The Wedding by Dorothy West

Michigan

The Autobiography of Malcom X by Malcom X and Alex Haley

Gifted Hands by Ben Carson

Minnesota

The Birchbark House by Louse Erdrich

Mississippi

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Black Boy by Richard Wright

Missouri

(no authors of color yet)

Montana

Winter in the Blood by James Welch

Nebraska

(no authors of color yet)

Nevada

(no authors of color yet)

New Hampshire

(no authors of color yet)

New Jersey

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

New Mexico

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

House Made of Dawn by M. Scott Momaday

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

New York

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

Passing by Nella Larsen

Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Jazz by Toni Morrison

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

North Carolina

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacob

North Dakota

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Ohio

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Oklahoma

Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan

Oregon

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson

Pennsylvania

Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante

Rhode Island

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

South Carolina

(no authors of color yet)

South Dakota

From the Deep Woods to Civilization by Charles Eastman

Tennessee

Roots by Alex Haley

Texas

The Border is Burning by Ito Romo

Caballero by Jovita Gonzalez

Utah

(no authors of color yet)

Vermont

See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid

Virginia

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Washington

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

West Virginia

(no authors of color yet)

Wisconsin

Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr

Wyoming

(no authors of color yet)

Please pass this list around to any readers you know so we can fill it in and provide a resource for folks who’d like to diversify their reading. Thank you!

This was originally published January 13, 2014 on Andrea Badgley’s Butterfly Mind.

8 thoughts on “Authors of Color From Each US State – A Photo Gallery

  1. You have some great authors on your list. I had to study works from a couple of them while at University, some of the famous ones like Toni Morrison but also others like Ann Petry. I’m going to use this post as a resource in my quest to read more from writers of colour.

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  2. You seem to be less interested in poets, but Frank X. Walker’s Affrilachia comes to mind; his collections Buffalo Dance and When Winter Come are also amazing–not set in a single place but rather following Lewis & Clark from the perspective of Clark’s slave York. Looking at the Affrilachian poets in general might help you locate some books of prose, too, like Crystal Wilkinson’s Blackberries, Blackberries or Water Street. Good luck!

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  3. Hey again Andrea,
    I just popped back over here because I just finished Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, and I really, really cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m happy to see she’s on your list of authors here, but I think it’s more accurate to associate her with New Mexico, rather than Arizona. Although she currently lives in Tucson (according to wikipedia), she grew up on her tribal lands which are wholly contained in New Mexico, and Ceremony is clearly (and evocatively) set in New Mexico.
    If you’re looking for an NM read, you should really pick that one up! It has such a strong sense of place, as well as just generally being heartbreaking and beautiful.
    -Allison

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