Urban Lit (a.k.a Urban Fiction, Street Lit) is an increasingly popular genre that features African-American and Latino characters, often set on the gritty streets of the city, whose lives are circumscribed by racism, violence, drugs, love and sex. The tone of the stories is frequently dark, as the characters struggle to survive on the street, and the language is often frank and explicit. Many stories are presented as cautionary tales, and a means of shedding light on the struggles and inequities of daily inner-city life, but they also offer hope and the possibilities of a better life.
Some must-read urban lit:
True to the Game, True to the Game II and True to the Game III by Terri Woods – This fast-paced trilology follows Gena, a young girl from the projects, who meets Quadir, a millionaire drug dealer, and falls madly in love. Quadir builds a massive empire while fighting his rivals and enemies. Gena faces the challenges of holding onto her man, and the life she’s fought so hard for. Both of them find themselves caught up in a vicious yet seductive world, and learn that success in this game is no easy win.
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah – After Winter Santiaga’s drug-kingpin father is arrested, the young teen leaves the easy and luxurious life she has known for a much rougher existence in foster care. An urban lit classic.
Push by Sapphire - When 16-year-old Precious, who lives in the projects and is pregnant with her father’s child, enrolls at an alternative school, she slowly forges a new path out of her dire circumstances. The 2009 Oscar-winning movie Precious was based on this novel.
Let That Be the Reason by Vickie Stringer – This semi-autobiographical novel features Carmen, a single-parent hustler who deals drugs and starts her own escort business to support her daughter.
A Hustler’s Wife and Forever a Hustler’s Wife by Nikki Turner - Des, one of the leading criminals in Richmond, Virginia, and Yarni, an innocent girl from a well-to-do family, hook up. But when Des is arrested, Yarni begins exploring the city’s criminal underworld.
Death Before Dishonor by 50 Cent and Nikki Turner - Hip-hop megastar 50 Cent and this collaboration with Nikki Turner follows successful beauty shop owner Sunni who despairs of finding a lasting relationship and Trill, who, after serving time in prison for a crime he did not commit, plots revenge.
Eviction Notice by K’wan - Porsha: the ghetto princess. Boots: the scandalous baby mama. Frankie aka Francine: the con artist. These three girls live in one apartment and are into all kinds of hood foolishness while having fun until one day they find an eviction notice taped to their door. Now they have seventy-two hours to find out how to come up with all the money they owe in months of back rent.
Decoded by Jay–Z – An exploration of the process and meaning behind Jay-Z’s music, Decoded also presents the evolution of hip-hop and rap, set against the the author’s own life and the lives of prominent African-American artists.
Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!