Day 7: Celebrating Black Authors – Zora Neale Hurston

In celebration of Black History Month, I’ll be celebrating black authors by sharing a book a day written by a black author and that has a black main character. Some of the authors I’ve read others are new to me and will be added to the ever-growing TBR pile.

Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
ISBN-13: 978-0061120060
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Release Date: May 2006
[Re-Read] [Add to Growing TBR Pile]

I read Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God some 20 years ago and if I’m being honest with you I didn’t read it. I found the dialogue rather difficult.

One day I was over my grandmother’s struggling through and she heard me and gave a bit of a chuckle. I asked what’s funny and she just took the book from me and began reading. My grandmother is not from Florida where Their Eyes takes place, but she is from the south. Soon after she started reading everything started to click. We started from the beginning and after a few sessions we she was done. It was great for a couple of reasons. My grandmother and I bonded, she read something she really enjoyed, and now every time I read Their Eyes I hear my grandmother reading it to me.

Summary

The epic tale of Janie Crawford, whose quest for identity takes her on a journey during which she learns what love is, experiences life’s joys and sorrows, and come home to herself in peace. Her passionate story prompted Alice Walker to say, “There is no book more important to me than this one.”

When first published in 1937, this novel about a proud, independent black woman was generally dismissed by male reviewers. Out of print for almost thirty years, but since its reissue in paperback edition by the University of Illinois Press in 1978, Their Eyes Were Watching God has become the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

With haunting sympathy and piercing immediacy, Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie Crawford’s evolving selfhood through three marriages. Light-skinned, long-haired, dreamy as a child, Janie grows up expecting better treatment than she gets until she meets Tea Cake, a younger man who engages her heart and spirit in equal measure and gives her the chance to enjoy life without being a man’s mule or adornment. Though Jaine’s story does not end happily, it does draw to a satisfying conclusion. Janie is one black woman who doesn’t have to live lost in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, instead Janie proclaims that she has done “two things everbody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”

 

 

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