NYC Novels by decades

[By Kenton Rambsy]

How do we, as readers, envision New York City? How do publishing houses help to create visions of New York City? The publishers tend to use more enticing images and illustrations of brownstones, skyscrapers, and city streets to create impressions of city life. These images play on readers’ sensibilities and contribute to how we think of the novels’ environments and characters.
In our “100 Novels Collection,” it is notable that nearly every decade (except 1910-1919) has a novel that uses New York City as a major setting.  These rendering of New York demonstrate the importance of the city in the literary imaginations of black writers.
Below, I have provided a bibliography, by decade, of novels in the study that take place in NYC.

The Sport of the Gods (1902) Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (*1927) James Weldon Johnson
The Walls of Jericho (1928) Rudolph Fisher
Quicksand (1928) Nella Larsen
Home to Harlem (1928) Claude McKay
Black No More (1931) George Schuyler
The Street (1946) Ann Petry
Invisible Man(1952)  Ralph Ellison
Go Tell It on The Mountain (1953) James Baldwin
The Outsider (1953) Richard Wright
Brown Girl,Brownstones (1959) Paule Marshall
The Man Who Cried I Am (1967) John A. Williams
The Cotillion: or, One Good Bull Is Half the Herd (1971)  John Oliver Killens
Eva’s Man (1976) Gayl Jones
Tar Baby (1981) Toni Morrison
The Women of Brewster Place (1982) Gloria Naylor
Mama Day (1988) Gloria Naylor
Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) Edwidge Danticat
Jazz (1992) Toni Morrison
The Intuitionist(1999) Colson Whitehead
The Coldest Winter Ever (2000) Sister Souljah