‘Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave’, by Zora Neale Hurston

Dan A. O’Brien at the Dublin Review of Books:

Anne Enright recently said of the Irish-American writer Maeve Brennan: “[she] didn’t have to be a woman to be forgotten, but it surely helped”. The same could be said of the African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), whose extraordinary fictional and anthropological works of the 1930s disappeared into obscurity until revived by feminist scholars in the 1970s. Alongside the better-remembered male writers Langston Hughes and Alain Locke, Hurston was a significant figure of the Harlem Renaissance, though her work was less concerned with the urban “New Negro” than with the rural black subject whose experience she documented alongside her mentor, Franz Boaz, the founder of American anthropology. Her ethnographic scholarship considered the chains that link African, Caribbean, and African-American culture, and she frequently turned to her own home town of Eatonville, Florida for material. She is best-known, however, for her fiction, in particular for her remarkable 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, which tells the tale of Janie Crawford, an African-American woman born in the aftermath of slavery who must contend not only with white oppression but with black male dominance as well.

more here.