Ulf Andersen/Getty Images; Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images; U.S. Coast Guard

Given the huge splash she made with her 2000 debut novel, White Teeth, biracial Brit author Zadie Smith became an instant literary star at the tender age of 25. With each successive effort, Smith has been measured against her past accomplishments and has largely continued to excel. She's on her fourth novel now in NW, a dense tale of young adults growing up in multiracial, working-class London. Recently, Smith offered The Root a list of her favorite books by black authors who helped shape her writerly world.


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

Creative Commons (via Wikipedia);  A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston  

Library of Congress; J.B. Lippincott


The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Creative Commons (via Wikipedia); Dial Press


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison  

Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images; Holt, Rinehart and Winston


The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

U.S. Coast Guard; Grove Press


The Black Book by Middleton A. Harris, with the assistance of Morris Levitt, Roger Furman and Ernest Smith and a new foreword by Toni Morrison

Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images; Random House


Hurricane by Andrew Salkey

Caribbean Review of Books; Peepal Tree Press