Late literary giant Zora Neale Hurston was known for penning thought-provoking, eminent novels that will forever be embedded in the fabric of American literature. Although she passed away over five decades ago, her collection of published work will expand with the posthumous release of a new book in 2018, Melville House reported.
The book—titled Barracoon—is a non-fiction anthropological piece that gives readers a lens into the story of Cudjo Lewis; the last known person to survive the transatlantic slave trade between Africa and the United States, the news outlet writes.
Nearly 90 years ago, Hurston traveled to Plateau, Alabama, and listened to Lewis—who was in his early 90s—recount his heart-wrenching experiences. Hurston went back and forth to Plateau over the course of four years to collect all of the details for the book. During her visits, Lewis shared memories about his upbringing in Africa, dark details about being captured, and his voyage to America on the Clotilde ship. He also candidly spoke to Hurston about the perils of being an enslaved man in this country and how his life changed following the Civil War. After gaining his freedom, Lewis and other ex-slaves cultivated a community in Alabama which was later landmarked and recognized as Africatown Historic District. According to Bustle, Lewis was also featured in a short film created by Hurston in 1928; making him the only former slave that was born in Africa to be featured on a movie reel.
Harper Collins described the book as a piece that “brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and one life forever defined by it” and “an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.” Although Lewis’ accounts capture what took place in our country centuries ago, Barracoon holds relevance in this day and age as race and the origins of racial issues have been pushed to the forefront of a national conversation. It also gives readers the opportunity to experience a different writing style from Hurston as many of her renowned novels—including Their Eyes Were Watching God—were fictional pieces.
Barracoon is slated to be released in May 2018.
This year we’ve witnessed a resurgence of the work of pivotal Black writers. According to Melville House, it was recently announced that a children’s book written by James Baldwin in the mid-70s titled Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood will be re-released in August of 2018 by Duke University Press.