Editor's Note: To accompany the review of "The Norton Anthology of African American Literature," the Book Review asked a number of distinguished black Americans to name the works by African Americans that most moved or influenced them.
There have been several books by African American writers that I'd consider to have been very influential to my growth and development. But four stand out in particular: One would have to be W.E.B. DuBois' "The Souls of Black Folk," while another would be James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time." I'd also list Toni Morrison's "Beloved" and the fourth would be Ralph Ellison's "Shadow and Act." There are others, but if you're looking at the African American literary tradition as a whole, and at those books that have had a particular impact on me, these are the four works that instantly come to mind.