Zadie Smith on Zora Neale Hurston

In the spring of 1969 when I was about to graduate from high school, Dr. King had been gone for a year, black power was in its ascendency (and in the FBI’s sights as we would learn all too well in December of that year. To remember it as a time of many troubles sounds/feels trite now, but important texts were being re-published, including Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Jean Toomer’s Cane, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. My first real exposure to Hurston was attending the performance of TEWWG by a small black theater company in D. C., and I’ve been reading and re-reading the novel ever since, teaching it, and recommending it to my American Studies students as a senior research topic. For Japanese undergraduates the dialect is a challenge, but the writing is so good in so many ways it’s worth the challenge, for them and for me.
In this weekend’s Books section of The Guardian Zadie Smith has one of the most moving and thoughtful essays on the book I’ve read: “What does soulful mean?”.

Jonathan Derbyshire’s review of Mark Edmundson’s new book on Freud, and Paul Laity’s interview with Eric Hobsbawm good, too.

About Hugh Nicoll

Hugh Nicoll teaches at Miyazaki Municipal University in Miyazaki City, Kyushu, Japan
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