7 Urban Authors You Need To Read
Urban life has been pretty underrepresented in books. A lot of publishers won’t touch the subject matter so the genre didn’t grow until Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer gave a platform to writers. Since it’s found its feet, street lit has had some stand out authors. Here are our top five urban authors to check out.
K’wan Foye’s 2002 book Gangsta stood out against the literary scene. A semi-autobiographical insight into gang life was a rare sight in literature. He doesn’t like being labelled as a street lit author as he varies his style, writing about crime, mysteries and other topics but with urban fiction at their core, his books are some of the most varied in the genre.
As urban authors go, Sapphire is probably the most famous. Push brought a lot of attention when it released in 1996. Sapphire doesn’t shy away from hard topics in either Push or its sequel The Kid. The books have earned praise for their honesty and ability to balance difficult issues with compelling prose.
The author of the Dutch series wrote his books from behind bars. He’s serving two life sentences for crimes he says he didn’t commit. Innocence or guilt aside, Teague has a particular understanding of the kind of gangster stories he covers in his books. His work is heavily influenced by gangster flicks in the eighties. Rather than the typical stories about small time criminals, Teague’s books are more like American Gangster.
Treasure E. Blue
With Harlem Girl Lost, Treasure E. Blue set himself up as one of the foremost street lit authors. The book earned great critical acclaim for its bleak honesty. Blue draws on his own life experience and that of people who grew up with him to find his stories. His quietly complex character engaged audiences and gained him a huge following.
Sister Souljah heralded in a more literary turn in street lit. She’s one of the most respected urban authors around. Her work brought stylish prose to stories about urban life. The one time member of Public Enemy has been a controversial figure even outside of her novels. The Coldest Winter Ever is credited with opening urban literature up to a wider audience.
You can’t call Saul Williams an urban author without touching on everything else he does. Foremost a poet, he’s also a writer an actor and a musician and has been successful in all these rolls. His works are more literary than street lit but works like The Dead Emcee Scrolls put him right at the intersection between urban authors and the rest of the literary world.
The tv host, self help guru and and motivational speaker threw her hat in the ring with other urban authors with her book Dare, a modern retelling of Faust set to the backdrop of the hip hop world. The book earned critical acclaim its understanding of the hip hop world and the complexity of the narrative it was modernising.