• The cover of the book Selected Letters of Langston Hughes

    Selected Letters of Langston Hughes

    Langston Hughes’ letters are undeniably intimate, impassioned, and earnest. As breathtaking as the poetry and prose that he penned throughout his career, Hughes’ correspondence gives readers a candidly deeper glance into his creative and personal life. Spanning decades of dialogue, this book features letters sent to fellow writers like Countee Cullen and Zora Neale Hurston, close friends like Carl Van Vechten, and even his father James Nathaniel Hughes. Each page adds new depth and dimension to not only Hughes’ biography, but his contributions to American culture as a whole. An illuminating companion to any of Hughes’ works, this collection is a soul-shaking portrait of one of the Harlem Renaissance’s greatest minds.

     
  • The cover of the book Not Without Laughter

    Not Without Laughter

    Originally published in 1930, Not Without Laughter is a coming-of-age tale that follows James “Sandy” Rogers, a young Black boy living in a small town in Kansas and his journey into adulthood. Inspired by Hughes’ boyhood, the novel unfolds as the Rogers family copes with the destructive aftermath of a storm that masterfully foreshadows the tumultuous times that lie ahead. Through the lives of his protagonists, Hughes seamlessly intertwines moments of loss with moments of hope to create a memorable narrative about the weight of racism and the power of resilience and grit. Not Without Laughter is a compelling testament to the importance of history and family.

     
  • The cover of the book Father and Son

    Father and Son

    A harrowing yet timely meditation on racism, intergenerational trauma, and familial love, Father and Son—which also appears in The Ways of White Folks—isn’t just a story about a family on the brink of unraveling, but an allegorical portrait of a nation’s legacy of white supremacy and systemic injustice. Opening with the return of a white plantation owner and his Black mistress’ son, Hughes’ characters fall prey to a trifecta of evils: pride, rage, and hate. Although a grim depiction of familial and communal dysfunction, Father and Son is an urgent example of how failing to confront the past can destroy the present.

     
  • The cover of the book The Weary Blues

    The Weary Blues

    Originally published in 1926, Langston Hughes literary debut The Weary Blues is an early sampling of his poetic prowess. Written during his mid-twenties, the poems in this book bring the Black experience to life. The stanza is melodic and unfurls like jazz. Including celebrated poems like “Dream Variation,” “Harlem Night Club,” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Hughes earliest poems are as gripping as his latter works. A quintessential title for any reader, The Weary Blues is a text meant to be read again and again. As Kevin Young suggests in the introduction, this collection “truly sings.”

     
  • The cover of the book The Big Sea

    The Big Sea

    The Big Sea begins with a 21-year-old Langston Hughes’ hurling books into the ocean. Perhaps a way of untethering himself from his life at Columbia, Hughes actions coincide with his excitement to see Africa for the first time and the blossoming of new friendships. The Big Sea is poetic, vivid, and unabashedly candid, each page inviting readers into the depths of Hughes mind, heart, and soul. The chapters of this autobiography chart Hughes’ awakening and breathes to life his experience of the world as a “real thing, to be touched and seen, not merely read about in a book.” The Big Sea tells the story of a young man’s self-discovery and the reclaiming of his voice.

     
  • The cover of the book The Ways of White Folks

    The Ways of White Folks

    Hughes’ 1934 short story collection is a searingly perceptive and witty examination of race and identity in America. Vibrantly crafted, The Ways of White Folks transports Hughes’ contemporary audience into the past while offering readers relevant parallels to the present. Whether it be the chaotic comedy of “Rejuvenation Through Joy,” the heartbreaking sorrow of “Home,” or the irony of “Slave on the Block,” each narrative grapples with the way white privilege has shaped America’s subconsciousness. Best read from start to finish, this book is as timeless as the genius who wrote it.

     
  • The cover of the book Tambourines to Glory

    Tambourines to Glory

    Set in 1950s Harlem, Tambourines to Glory follows two friends—Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed—as they try to carve out a life for themselves in the wake of the Korean War. Both yearn for something more than merely ordinary lives and together, they find salvation by founding their own church at the corner of 126th and Lenox. Yet as their congregation grows, Laura and Essie’s spiritual enterprise attracts the interest of Buddy a smooth-talking scam artist whose charisma jeopardizes everything the two friends have worked for. A romp of a novel, Tambourines to Glory is a touching examination of desire, power, and hope.

     
  • The cover of the book Finding Langston

    Finding Langston

    Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome is a stirring tale of a young boy, whose named after the prolific Langston Hughes, in the 1940s. After his mother’s death, Cline-Ransome’s protagonist moves from Alabama to Chicago with his father who yearns to build a new life far from the prejudice of the Jim Crow South. As Langston struggles to adjust to life in the city he finds solace in the stacks of the Chicago Public Library where he discovers the poetry of his literary namesake. A captivating story about belonging and the power of literature, Finding Langston is an illuminating tale for readers of all ages.