Sunday, January 8, 2012

Forever Zora

Today is the birthday of Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston. Despite having to struggle for everything she did and got, she was an exceptional writer of both fiction and nonfiction. ("It is hard to apply oneself to study when there is no money to pay for food and lodging. I almost never explain these things when folks are asking me why I don't do this or that.")
Her writing captured the idiom of "black folk" both in her native Eatonville FL (formerly an all-black town where's there's now an annual festival in her honor) as well as in her ethnographic dispatches from Haiti. It would be so wonderful for her to know how much she is appreciated today. Below are first-edition jackets of some of her most famous titles.

Steve King wrote about some breaking Hurston news in the Barnes & Noble review:
Hurston reported the sensational Ruby McCollum murder trial ... for the Pittsburgh Courier. McCollum had murdered a prominent local doctor and senator in Live Oak, Florida, a man with whom she was having, or coerced into having, an affair. In her newspaper reports, Hurston railed at the "cracker" judge, and against "paramour rights" -- the impunity granted any white man wishing a black concubine -- a term she had coined when writing earlier about Florida's turpentine camps. Hurston's involvement in the McCollum case is discussed in detail in Zora Neale Hurston's Final Decade (Virginia Lynn Moylan, 2011) and in Zora Hurston and the Strange Case of Ruby McCollum (C. Arthur Ellis, 2009). The case is also the subject of an upcoming movie produced by Springtree Studios.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing such a nice tribute to a truly unique and brilliant writer. And I love the original book jackets! As far as her coverage of the Ruby McCullom trial, it was a fascinating story that had all the elements of a page-turner murder mystery! And Zora risked her life in an effort to expose the truth (she was under a constant death threat by the Ku Klux Klan). I would like to offer one correction: the murder victim, Dr. Leroy Adams, was a newly-elected state legislator, not a senator. And thank you for plugging my book!!