Wrapped in Rainbows : the Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd

wrappedSome years ago, I read Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, but, before reading this biography, I didn’t know much about this famous African-American author.  Her experiences were extraordinary!  She grew up as an imaginative child in a totally African-American town in Florida.  When she was thirteen years old, her mother died; Zora’s father ceased paying for her education and sent her away from home.  Although she had to postpone her education for a number of years to support herself by working in a variety of jobs, she eventually earned a college degree from Barnard College in New York City.  In addition to her distinguished writing career, she collected folklore and customs of black people in the Southern United States and the Caribbean.  This research included apprenticeships with a number of voodoo practitioners.  The biography includes information about her part in the Harlem Renaissance, her three marriages, and her shocking arrest on a false charge.

Zora had a connection to North Carolina; she taught briefly in Durham at the college that later became North Carolina Central University.  During that time, she attended Paul Green’s playwriting seminar at Carolina, and, in recent years, many people urged Carolina officials to name a building after her.

The book includes summaries of her novels and many of her short stories.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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