Bernice McFadden

American Book Award Winner
Travels from: New York, NY

“Bernice was an excellent speaker as she interacted with guests before, during, and after the event.” — Battle Creek Reads, 2022

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), Glorious, and The Book of Harlan (winner of a 2017 American Book Award and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction). She is a four-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of four awards from the BCALA. Bernice McFadden is also an essayist, short story writer and has written five novels of humorous erotica under the pseudonym Geneva Holliday. Praise Song for the Butterflies is her latest novel.

Prepare an Invitation for:


Akashic Books |

The seeming inevitability of cruel fate juxtaposes the triumph of the spirit in this remarkably rich and powerful novel, Glorious. Bernice McFadden’s fully realized characters are complicated, imperfect beings, but if ever a character were worthy of love and honor, it is her Easter Bartlett. This very American story is fascinating; it is also heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and beautifully written.
–Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route

Riveting…I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes.
–Toni Morrison, on The Warmest December

Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden’s rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.

Praise Song for the Butterflies

Akashic Books |

Longlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction

A Black Caucus of the American Library Association 2019 Honor title, Fiction

Abeo Kata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine-year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Katas’ idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abeo’s father, following his mother’s advice, places the girl in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abeo for the fifteen years she is held in the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again.

In the tradition of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, this novel is a contemporary story that offers an eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies will break your heart and then heal it.

The Book of Harlan

Akashic Books |

Bernice L. McFadden has been named the Go On Girl Book Club‘s 2018 Author of the Year

WINNER of the 2017 American Book Award

WINNER of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction)

2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee (Fiction)

A Washington Post Notable Book of 2016

The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he eventually becomes a professional musician. When Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are invited to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre–affectionately referred to as The Harlem of Paris by black American musicians–Harlan jumps at the opportunity, convincing Lizard to join him.

But after the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald–the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany–irreparably changing the course of Harlan’s life. Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden’s mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden’s familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.

Loving Donovan

Akashic Books |

The first section of McFadden’s unconventional love story belongs to Campbell. Despite being born to a brokenhearted mother and a faithless father, Campbell still believes in the power of love…if she can ever find it. Living in the same neighborhood, but unknown to Campbell until a chance meeting brings them together, is Donovan, the little man of a shattered home–a family torn apart by anger and bitterness.


In the face of daunting obstacles, Donovan dreams of someday marrying, raising a family, and playing in the NBA. But deep inside, Campbell and Donovan live with the histories that have shaped their lives. What they discover–together and apart–forms the basis of this compelling, sensual, and surprising novel.

The Warmest December

Akashic Books |

The Warmest December is the incredibly moving story of one Brooklyn family and the alcoholism that determined years of their lives. Narrated by Kenzie Lowe, a young woman reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, as she visits her dying father and finds that choices she once thought beyond her control are very much hers to make.


Sugar: A Novel

Plume |

20th Anniversary Edition—with a New Foreword by Kimberly Elise

A novel by a critically acclaimed voice in contemporary fiction, praised by Ebony for its “unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end.”

A young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women’s lives—and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out—but ignorance and superstition in. To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace.

Coming Soon!

Bernice’s Blog

Bernice in the News

Bernice’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2020 USA Today, 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read
2019 Longlist, Women’s Prize for Fiction (Praise Song for the Butterflies)
2019 BCALA Honor Award (Praise Song for the Butterflies)
2019 Go On Girl Book Club Author of the Year (The Book of Harlan)
2017 American Book Award (The Book of Harlan)
2017 Winner 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (The Book of Harlan)
2016 Washington Post Notable Books of 2016 (The Book of Harlan)
2016 Historical Novel Society “November Editor’s Choice” (The Book of Harlan)
2016 National Reading Group Month/ Great Group Reads Selection (The Book of Harlan)
2016 Award for Excellence in Literature, Art Sanctuary, The Celebration of Black Arts Legacy Awards
2013 Finalist, Hurston Wright Legacy Award in Fiction (Gathering of Waters)
2013 National Reading Group Month/Great Group Reads Selection (Nowhere is a Place)
2012 New York Times 100 Notable Books (Gathering of Waters)
2012 Washington Post 50 Best Books (Gathering of Waters)
2012 New York Times “Editor’s Choice” (Gathering of Waters) ** February 17th, 2012**
2011 Finalist, Hurston Wright Legacy Award in Fiction (Glorious)
2011 Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Fiction Award (Glorious)\
2011 Nominated for the 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Glorious)
2010 New York Times Book Review (Glorious)
2010 Debut Selection for The One Book, One Harlem Program (Glorious)
2010 O Magazine “Book to Watch” (Glorious)
2010 Historical Novel Society “Editor’s Choice” (Glorious)
2007 Short-listed for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award in Fiction (Nowhere is a Place)\
2007 National Book Club Conference BeBe Moore Campbell Memorial Literary Award
2006 Washington Post Best Fiction (Nowhere is a Place)
2004 Subject of The Lifetime Television 20th Anniversary Commercial
2004 Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Fiction Honor Award (Loving Donovan)
2002 Short-listed for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award in Fiction (The Warmest December)
2002 Zora Neale Hurston Society Award for Creative Contribution to Literature
2001 Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Fiction Honor Award (Sugar)
2001 Black Writer’s Alliance, Gold Pen Award, Best Mainstream Fiction (Sugar)
2001 Black Writer’s Alliance, Gold Pen Award, Best New Author
2001 Go On Girl Book Club New Author of the Year Award (Sugar)
2000 New York Times Book Review (Sugar)
2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer’s (Sugar)

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