All posts tagged: Zora Neale Hurston

An Opportunity to #Listen

I started and finished Barracoon in just under four days. I honestly don’t know how to write this review. Full disclosure, book reviews aren’t my forte in general (which you may have figured out if you’ve read any of my others). However, reviewing Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon feels strange. She was brilliant, and scholars and biographers have studied her and her work. I don’t have anything to add there. The book is Kissola’s recollection of his life in Africa, being enslaved, and then being free from enslavement. There is no room to judge the quality of the narrative, because it’s simply his life – we can’t ask that it be anything it’s not.  Therefore, I feel as though I can only speak to my experience reading it. Reading Barracoon at this particular moment feels appropriate. Reminding, or for some people learning, about the experience of enslaved people is an important piece in acknowledging our history and seeking to better our present. My heart broke for Kissola and the pain and suffering he had to endure, …

July Book

This July at The Bookly Club we’ll be reading Zora Neale Hurston‘s profound work, Barracoon. And we hope you’ll read with us as we all further our education on American history. How do you join? Check HERE. And now more about our selection… Although Hurston wrote Barracoon nearly 100 years ago in 1927, it was only just published in 2018. It’s tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, originally known as Oluale Kossola, who at the time was the only living survivor of the Clotilda; the last slaver known to have made the transatlantic journey (unearthed just last year in 2019). Hurston was, and is, one of America’s most notable authors and anthropologists. She’s the author of dozens of award-winning poems, essays, plays, novels, short stories, books, and a filmmaker. As a Black woman in America at the turn of the century, she focused her work on the issues of the Black community and was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance movement. She told stories of the African American experience, and Barracoon was in fact …

{Their Eyes Were Watching God} Cover Redesign

In the years since this book was published, there have been quite a few iterations of the cover design. None of which have been terrible, but I figured it’d be a fun redesign none-the-less. This design was inspired by the reoccurring theme of the pear tree (among others). Early on in the story the young protagonist, Janie, sits beneath a pear tree and ponders life and love. All in one, the tree symbolizes her memories, hopes, and the blossoming of her dreams. And then throughout the story Hurston uses the pear tree, and others, as symbols of Janie’s life… “Janie saw her life like a a great tree.” So, here it is…   Title Font: Hitalica Caption Font: Georgia Pear Illustration: “The Beurre Diel Pear” Augusta Innes Withers, Hand-colored Engraving  

…Were Watching Love

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Although the vernacular was hard to read through at times (just slowed things down a bit), I thought the pacing was well done (her use of time pulls you through the story… 25+ years in less than 200 pages) and her writing style was captivating. After reading the last page, I went back and read the first two paragraphs: “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by the Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” Rereading this intro gave the book a clarity for me. It’s as though Hurston puts the thesis of protagonist …

All the Parts

Their Eyes Were Watching God was a profoundly communicative summation of parts that created a rhythmic narrative of the many lives of Janie.  Janie, herself, is certainly a workhorse character embodying many lives. Each of her lives served a distinct purpose to describe the struggles of mankind (man or woman, black or white) – the struggles of balancing the innate desire to stand alone, free, and independent with the crushing need for love and the struggles of defining community and oneself within community. Zora Neale Hurston created Janie as a heroine for the African American woman. While their eyes were watching God, Janie’s were strictly focused on determining her own path. As complicated as the many lives of Janie were the decidedly varied narrative techniques. Oscillating between vernacular speech and highly rhetorical narration, Zora Neale Hurston’s diverse writing style helps define Janie’s loves and lives.  Janie moves from a stifled relationship with Jody wherein she does not speak rather is spoken for to her verbose, solid relationship with Tea Cake.  The intercut use of Southern …

September Book

American Broadcasting Company © 2005 “Their Eyes Were Watching God” TV Movie Okay folks, Summer has come to a close and school’s back in session (or soon to be). But have no fear, that means fall is on its way! Maybe you all don’t feel the same way, but we look forward to this colorful season of cooler weather, layers, and school supplies (is our inner nerd showing?). So for this month’s book choice we’ve gone with the theme: {Back to School}. There are so many great options to choose from, but we’ve decided to go with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). Set in Florida in the early 20th century, the story follows Janie Crawford on an extended flashback as she tells her story in three parts from her grandmother’s plantation shack to the Everglades—until a tragedy brings her home. Janie narrates her life story to her best friend, satisfying the “oldest human longing—self-revelation.” Maybe a lesser known option, but the more we learn about this book the more excited we …