It is only now that urban fiction authors have begun to attract interest from major publishers who believe that wider audiences are ready to accept the dark tones commonly depicted in urban fiction novels. And when it comes to questions about the best urban fiction authors, only a select few names tend to draw attention in conversations. This is not only because of their ability to stand out amongst their peers, but it’s also because they have attracted a certain level of mainstream popularity.
Also known as ‘Street Lit,’ ‘Hip Hop Fiction’ or ‘Ghetto Lit,’ urban fiction is defined by its contemporary urban settings and characters, usually in their teens and 20s, who deal with issues of race, poverty, gangs, drugs, profanity, prostitution and other social-economic realities they experience. The tone is usually dark, with most urban fiction authors drawing upon their experiences to depict their own personal stories.
There have been many debates about the nature of urban fiction and the role that race plays amongst the readers who choose this genre of literature. Some reason that the nationality of so many urban fiction authors (African American) in and of itself speaks volumes about the target audience of the books set in this genre. Nonetheless, it is only now that urban fiction authors have begun to attract interest from major publishers who believe that wider audiences are ready to accept the dark tones commonly depicted in urban fiction novels.
When it comes to questions about the best urban fiction authors, only a select few names tend to draw attention in conversations. This is not only because of their ability to stand out amongst their peers, but it’s also because they have attracted a certain level of mainstream popularity. Here are 10 of the best urban fiction authors in circulation today:
1. Teri Woods
Teri Woods spent six years submitting her first novel, ‘True to the Game’ to numerous publishers, only to be continuously rejected. In 1998 she started Teri Woods Publishing to publish her own work aimed at a demographic largely ignored by major publishers. Her breakout success landed her a multi-million dollar contract with a major publishing group. In 2015, it was announced that ‘True to the Game’ will be adapted into film under the same title. Today, the self-published and New York Times bestselling author is considered the pioneer of the urban fiction genre. Her other book titles include ‘Deadly Reigns,’ ‘Angel,’ ‘Dutch Trilogy’ and more.
2. Vickie Stringer
One of the leading writers of urban fiction, Vickie Stringer wrote her first novel, ‘Let That Be The Reason’ while in prison (federal drug trafficking and money-laundering). Seven years later, she started the Triple Crown Publications, named after her own drug crew, to publish her own work and those of other urban fiction authors. Considered by many as the “Reigning Queen of Urban Fiction,” Stringer has written internationally-acclaimed books which include ‘Low Down and Dirty,’ ‘Dirty Red,’ ‘Still Dirty’ and ‘Dirtier Than Ever’
3. Nikkie Turner
Dubbed by Trendsetter Magazine as the ‘Queen of Hip Hop Lit,’ Nikki Turner’s first two books, ‘A Hustler’s Wife’ and ‘A Project Chick’, have made her one of the highest-selling and best urban fiction authors today. Formerly a travel agent, Turner decided to become a full-time urban fiction novelist to show the “dark side” of the street life beyond the “glitz and glamor.”
4. Sister Souljah
‘The Coldest Winter Ever’ is considered one of the greatest urban fiction novels ever written, cementing Sister Souljah as one of the best urban fiction authors ever. Not only did the author rejuvenate the urban fiction genre at a time when it was deemed dead, but her books continue to inspire new authors today. She has charted the New York Times bestseller list three times with her works ‘Midnight, A Gangster Love Story,’ ‘Midnight and The Meaning of Love’ and ‘A Moment of Silence.’ With her novels dealing with universal themes of faith, love and integrity, Souljah’s books are available in many prison libraries.
K’wan Foye, also known simply as K’wan, writes the rawest urban fiction in the arena. With titles like ‘Gangsta’ and ‘Hoodlum’ under his belt, K’wan has garnered the attention and respect of readers from all over the world. He also has a publishing company (Black Dawn Books) that is inspiring other African American authors to make their voices heard.
6. Shannon Holmes
Shannon Holmes’ first novel , ‘B-More Careful,’ sold over 100,000 copies in less than a year. His second book, ‘Badgirlz’ earned the author a publishing deal with Atria Imprint, making him one of very few urban fiction authors to pique the interest of a major publisher. His other notable works include ‘Dirty Game,’ ‘Never Go Home Again’ and ‘Concrete Jungle.’
7. Wahida Clark
Like Woods, Wahida Clark began her writing career while serving time in prison (money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud). Upon her release, she started the Wahida Clark Presents Publishing Company and published a total of 11 novels, many of which have been listed on the New York Times and Essence bestseller lists. Known for her ‘Thug Series,’ Clark describes her genre as Thug Love fiction, a subgenre of urban fiction.
8. Treasure E. Blue
The bestselling author of ‘Harlem Girl Lost,’ Treasure E. Blue drew the attention of Random House and has since dominated many top selling lists across the country. Dubbed the ‘Uncle of Urban Fiction, Blue’s other noteworthy book titles include ‘Keyshia and Clyde’ and ‘A Street Girl Named Desire.’
9. Mark Anthony
Mark Anthony self-published ‘Urban Massacre’ at a time when publishers were refusing to recognize the potential of the urban fiction genre. Throughout his career, Anthony has seen and survived the growing pains of the urban fiction publishing industry. He has also managed dozens of authors in the urban fiction genre, helping them secure lucrative deals.
10. Kwame Teague
Kwame Teague’s ‘Dutch’ is one of the most popular urban fiction books ever written. He knows how to set his audience on fire with his stories. Despite being in prison for the duration of his books’ publication, Teague has enjoyed great success as an author.
If you’re a fan of the urban fiction genre, then you may be familiar with a few of the individuals listed above as the best urban fiction authors. These authors are worth acknowledging because they have persevered despite the odds. These courageous pioneers have cemented their place in the annals of literary history – making their voices heard in a world that gives little credence to the genre within which they choose to write.