The Prominence of NYC, Chicago, and California

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Given the larger history of slavery in America, the South has always figured prominently into the geographic settings of African American literature since the publication of William Wells Brown’s Clotel in 1853. However, the results of our study reveal that there has been a tendency among novelists to set their narratives in urban spaces, especially New York City and icago. 

Various locations throughout California also appear to be regular points of interest, as Los Angeles and San Francisco appear in novels by Walter Mosley, Octavia Butler, and Terry McMillan.

Langton Hughes’s Not Without Laughter (1930) and Iceberg Slim’s Trick Baby (1967) feature settings in Chicago, Illinois

Walter Mosley’s Devil In a Blue Dress (1990) and Bebe Moore Campbell’s Brothers and Sisters (1994) feature setting in Los Angeles, California.