In the immortal words of Black Twitter: “Stay out of Black folks’ business”—and arguably, few writers have known how to interpret the layers and nuances of Black folks’ business better than journalist, essayist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston’s insistence upon eschewing elitism and assimilation to center a quickly eroding early 20th century Southern African American vernacular, culture and folklore has rightly cemented her in the canon of America’s greatest authors, and though not recognized as such until well after her death, the mere mention of a Hurston work is bound to send lovers of great literature and Black history into a tizzy.
Case in point: on Thursday, the literati and bibliophiles alike went up for an announcement by Amistad Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, that its big January 2022 title would be a new collection of essays by Hurston. Per a press release sent to The Root, Hurston’s You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays will be published on January 4, 2022, and will include an introduction by New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of The Root, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., who also edited the anthology alongside Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English, Speech, and Foreign Languages at Texas Woman’s University, M. Genevieve West.
More on the forthcoming book from Amistad:
One of the most acclaimed artists of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston was a gifted novelist, playwright, and essayist. Drawn from three decades of her work, this anthology showcases her development as a writer, from her early pieces expounding on the beauty and precision of African American art to some of her final published works, covering the sensational trial of Ruby McCollum, a wealthy Black woman convicted in 1952 for killing a white doctor. Among the selections are Hurston’s well-known works such as “How It Feels to be Colored Me” and “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience.”
The essays in this essential collection are grouped thematically and cover a panoply of topics, including politics, race and gender, and folkloric study from the height of the Harlem Renaissance to the early years of the Civil Rights movement. Demonstrating the breadth of this revered and influential writer’s work, You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays is an invaluable chronicle of a writer’s development and a window into her world and time.
As bittersweet as it is that Hurston has only received her flowers posthumously (Literary Hub reminds us that Their Eyes Were Watching God was out of print for nearly 30 years before being reissued in 1978), needless to say, we are beyond excited at the prospect of new brilliance from this seminal writer coming to the fore. As such, we’ll be diving back into our own Hurston collections as we eagerly await the new release, because as aptly put by Lit Hub: “This is not a drill.”