The Uncalled (Barnes & Noble Digital Library) by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Dunbar's first novel, published in 1901, evokes The Scarlet Letter, even featuring a character suggestively named Hester Prime. When a minister alienates his congregation by refusing to condemn an unwed mother, his hopes for the future dissolve . . . as secrets from his past come to light.
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), the son of former slaves, was among the first African-American writers to forge a successful literary career. Much of his work was composed in dialect, and fostered an idyllic view of the Old South; this resulted in a critical backlash that only recently has given way to a more nuanced appreciation.