cover image You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

Zora Neale Hurston. Amistad, $29.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-304385-5

More than three decades of work by novelist Hurston (1891–1960) come together in this showstopping collection. In “Spirituals and Neo-Spirituals,” she spotlights the power of spiritual songs, and notes that “in the mouth of the Negro, the English language loses its stiffness... ‘the rim bones of nothing’ is just as truthful as ‘limitless space.’ ” Her pride in the richness of Black American life is evident throughout, especially in “Race Cannot Become Great Until It Recognizes Its Talent” and the title essay, in which she reminds readers that “Two hundred and forty-six years of outward submission during slavery... intensified our inner life instead of destroying it.” In “Court Order Can’t Make Races Mix” and “Which Way the NAACP?” she reveals her misgivings regarding the Brown v Board of Education decision and its implication that all-Black schools are inferior. Whether reporting on the injustices of the criminal justice system, poking holes in the pomposity of Marcus Garvey, or drawing a character sketch of a Black Florida cattle rancher, Hurston’s work stands out for its wit and range. This will delight her fans, and should garner her some new ones. Agent: Joy Harris, The Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Jan.)