She’s one of the most influential figures in American letters and a hero of the Harlem Renaissance. Now, Zora Neale Hurston fans have a new slate of stories to dig into from the renowned scholar and writer.
A new collection of Hurston’s short stories, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, will be released Jan. 14, 2020. The book’s publisher, Harper Collins, boasts that the new collection includes eight “lost” Harlem stories, rescued from obscurity in “forgotten periodicals and archives.”
“These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world,” the publisher’s site reads.
Hurston’s influence on American literature is immeasurable. A renowned writer, intellectual and anthropologist, Hurston relayed the diversity of the black American experience in her work as a novelist and folklorist. As the Nation wrote in a review of another posthumously published work, Barracoon, Hurston spent the 1930s traveling across the Deep South and Caribbean “in order to capture black folk heritage and traditions and preserve them faithfully for posterity. ‘Folklore,’ she wrote, ‘is the arts of the people before they find out that there is any such thing as art.’”
Her work was revered, for a time, while she was alive, though she died penniless and neglected at the age of 69. Decades later, black women writers—namely, Alice Walker, would resurrect her work and her legacy. She remains the subject of reverence and fascination: This year, a book chronicling her complicated relationship with her Harlem Renaissance contemporary Langston Hughes, Zora and Langston, was published, indicating that the appetite for Hurston’s tales—and stories about her remarkable life—has yet to be satiated.
Walker, who found Hurston’s unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Fla., would later give her a fitting headstone and epitaph: “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”