Fans of Sister Souljah are finally getting a direct sequel to her classic The Coldest Winter Ever this March: Life After Death. In honor of the occasion, check out some of these other undeniable classics of the genre.

Depictions of harsh urban life have long been a staple of literature, from Émile Zola to Steven Crane to Richard Wright. Iceberg Slim’s brutal classic Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim rightly belongs in that strain of bleak naturalism – as the Washington Post wrote: “Iceberg Slim may have done for the pimp what Jean Genet did for the homosexual and thief.” While this is not a work of fiction, this book’s effects on the genre are enormous.

Influenced by Iceberg Slim, Goines’s work paints a broader picture of the urban criminal life of the 1970s, revealing its reverberations in society at large. Writing at a furious pace, Goines produced 16 books in 5 years. Check out Dopefiend as a good place to start.

Teri Woods’s True to the Game builds a wonderfully detailed version Philadelphia and whips the story at a fantastically entertaining pace. Solid literary merits aside, Wood’s true-life story of driven self-publishing success and the book’s amazing influence over the genre are truly inspiring.

Sister Souljah was already well known as an activist and an MC when she published The Coldest Winter Ever, her beloved cautionary coming-of-age tale. Winter Santiago is a classic character and Souljah has expanded her world out with several other titles about members of the Santiago family.

Published under Teri Wood’s banner, Holmes’s B-more Careful is, at times, rough-hewn in delivery and obscured in slang and idioms. But this wildly popular book promises to be riveting for anyone who is drawn to the Baltimore of David Simon and “The Wire.”

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