Urban fiction is flying off the shelves in many of our branches here at The New York Public Library. Named for its city settings, this genre often touches on themes of violence, crime, drugs, and sex, and it's usually written by and about African Americans and other people of color.
It's a well-established genre. Sistah Souljah's The Coldest Winter Ever, Gangsta by K'wan, The Cartel series by Ashley & JaQuavis, Addicted (or really anything) by Zane... many of urban fiction's foundational books remain popular multiple decades after they were first published. And some literary criticism argues that books widely considered classics and taught in schools today, like Oliver Twist or the work of Langston Hughes, fit beneath the umbrella of urban fiction.
Because of the genre's fast pace and compulsive readability, many readers burn through urban fiction at a breakneck speed—meaning libraries are left with empty shelves and readers have to search other sections for books that have a similar subject matter, pace, and tone.
Here are a few books shelved as romance or fantasy or fiction that might satisfy the craving for similar kinds of stories.
If you like fast-paced, crime-centered thrillers...
Devil in a Blue Dress (and the rest of the Easy Rawlins series) by Walter Mosley
City of Saviors (and the rest of the Detective Eloise Norton series) by Rachel Howzell Hall
Hollywood Homicide (and the rest of the Detective by Day series) by Kellye Garrett
The Family Business series by Carl Weber
If you like steamy romance...
The Blackbirds by Eric Jerome Dickey
At the CEO's Pleasure (and more Harlequin romances) by Yahrah St. John
Stone Cold Liar (and the rest of the Misadventures of Mink Larue series) by Noire
Engaging the Enemy (and more Harlequin romances) by Reese Ryan
If you like paranormal romance or suspenseful fantasy...
The True to the Game by Teri Woods
King Divas (and the rest of the Divas series) by De'Nesha Diamond
Vigilante: Southland by Gary Phillips
The Lost Treasures of R&B by Nelson George
Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.
Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!