The Silent Generation (1928–1945)

By Howard Rambsy II

The Silent Generation, people born between 1928 and 1945, include several well-known African American and African novelists. In the United States, as children, the cohort experienced the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II. When many of the generation were in their 30s, the country experienced the Civil Rights Movement, and shortly thereafter, the generational cohort began publishing novels.

Toni Morrison (b. 1931), Ernest J. Gaines (b. 1933), Toni Cade Bambara (b. 1939), Ishmael Reed (b. 1938), and Alice Walker (b. 1944) became the more critically acclaimed African American novelists of the generation.  Notably, the generation gave rise to several outstanding Black women novelists. In addition to the aforementioned, Morrison, Bambara, and Walker, other authors include Paule Marshall (b. 1929).

Mariama Bȃ (b. 1929), Chinua Achebe (b. 1930), Wole Soyinka (b. 1934), Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (b. 1938), Ama Ata Aidoo (b. 1942), and Buchi Emecheta (b. 1944) stand out as the most prominent African authors of the generation.