Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: Books about slavery in the south

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Books about slavery in the south
Date Posted: 1/21/2009 2:18 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2008
Posts: 3,529
Back To Top

I would like to read a book about what it was like to be a slave in the south.  Preferably told from a slaves point of view.  Any suggestions?

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/21/2009 3:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
Back To Top

Have you ever read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe? Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer are both set at the time of and address slavery.

I have read other books that refer to slavery (ie, former slaves), but are not currently slaves such as Mama Day by Gloria Naylor and Beloved by Toni Morrison (some of her other books have slavery themes as well)

Last Edited on: 1/21/09 3:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/21/2009 4:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,900
Back To Top


If you haven't read them you should definitely try Roots and Queen by Alex Haley. 

Also Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill (which I haven't read but is on my TBR pile) and A Mercy by Toni Morrison. 

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a parody of Gone with the Wind told from a slaves point of view.  

Thats all I can think of right now....

Date Posted: 1/21/2009 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
Back To Top

Cane River by Lalita Tademy is excellent.  It's the story of several generations of slave women.  I totally agree with Holly about Roots and Queen.  I read Roots in my 20's when it first came out and it woke me up to the realities of what slavery was really like.  I was horrified.  Also Jubliee by Margaret Walker is supposed to be good.  I haven't read it but it's on TBR list.

Date Posted: 1/22/2009 1:23 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,282
Back To Top


Last Edited on: 2/2/15 2:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/22/2009 10:35 AM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2008
Posts: 3,529
Back To Top

Thank you all for your suggestions.  Sounds like there are some good choices here.

Date Posted: 1/24/2009 3:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
Back To Top

May I add another? it's NF historical but it reads very easily and I adored it:  The Hairstons by Henry Weincek. It is the history of one 'family' from the days of slavery to the present, in western North Carolina/Southern Virginia, traces the descendants of each and weaves in the history of each era--the 'family' are both the black and white people who bear the name Hairston, which is of course the original plantation owner's surname, because slaves typically took the surname of their master.

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 928
Back To Top

Here are a few non-fiction selections:

Celia, A Slave by Melton Mclarin

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth

His Promised Land by John P. Parker

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 1:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
Back To Top

I recommend the Benjamin January mystery series every chance I get...they are about a black man who was born into slavery but is freed as a teenager and lives in New Orleans in the 1830s. Although Benjamin is not a slave, many of his friends are, and the author does a better job of making you feel the fear and dread of slavery, and of being a black person in a slave-owning society, than almost any other author I've read. The first book in the series is called A Free Man of Color, and the author is Barbara Hambly.

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 2:19 AM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2008
Posts: 110
Back To Top

A note on Roots, by Haley:  Roots is a work of fiction and sections were copied from the novel "The African" ( www.paperbackswap.com/book/details/9780553112016-The+African) by Courlander.

Last Edited on: 2/3/09 2:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/18/2009 2:10 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 928
Back To Top

Here's another I came across the other day: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup