City Cast

Chicago Authors You Need to Know

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on July 11
"A Raisin in the Sun" movie in 1961

"A Raisin in the Sun" movie in 1961. (George Rinhart / Corbis / Getty)

As authors Nella Larsen, Bette Howland, and Finley Peter Dunne are inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame today, City Cast Chicago podcast host and avid reader Jacoby Cochran helped me round up some of our fav local authors.

Best poet: Gwendolyn Brooks

Brooks became the first Black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her poetry captured Chicago’s varied Black experiences.

Best for kids: Shel Silverstein

From “The Giving Tree” to “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” the Logan Square native gave us no shortage of stories and poems that kids have enjoyed for decades.

Best for understanding Chicago: Timuel Black, Natalie Moore

The late Civil Rights activist wrote extensively about Chicago’s Great Migration. Moore blends memoir and reporting in “The South Side” to tell the story of segregation in Chicago.

Best playwright: Lorraine Hansberry

“A Raisin in the Sun” is required reading for many Chicago students for good reason: The play about housing discrimination was taken directly from Hansberry’s life.

Best for short stories: Sandra Cisneros

The Humboldt Park native is known for “The House on Mango Street,” vignettes inspired by her childhood. She has been lauded for her poetry and personal essays.

Best biographer: Jonathan Eig

Eig has written about Al Capone, Muhammad Ali, and Martin Luther King Jr.

+ We know there other Chicago authors. Tell us your favs!

+ Nella Larsen wrote “Passing,” which inspired the 2021 film.

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