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Barracoon
Cover of Barracoon
Barracoon
The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
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New York Times BestsellerAmazon's Best Hostory Book of the Year 2018Time Magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of 2018New York Public Library's Best Book of 2018NPR's Book Concierge Best Book of...
New York Times BestsellerAmazon's Best Hostory Book of the Year 2018Time Magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of 2018New York Public Library's Best Book of 2018NPR's Book Concierge Best Book of...
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Description-

  • New York Times Bestseller

    Amazon's Best Hostory Book of the Year 2018

    Time Magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of 2018

    New York Public Library's Best Book of 2018

    NPR's Book Concierge Best Book of 2018

    Economist Book of the Year

    "A profound impact on Hurston's literary legacy."—New York Times

    "One of the greatest writers of our time."—Toni Morrison

    "Zora Neale Hurston's genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece."—Alice Walker

    A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.

    In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation's history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo's firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

    In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo's past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

    Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo's unique vernacular, and written from Hurston's perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.

About the Author-

  • Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. An author of four novels (Jonah's Gourd Vine, 1934; Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937; Moses, Man of the Mountain, 1939; and Seraph on the Suwanee, 1948); two books of folklore (Mules and Men, 1935, and Tell My Horse, 1938); an autobiography (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942); and over fifty short stories, essays, and plays. She attended Howard University, Barnard College and Columbia University, and was a graduate of Barnard College in 1927. She was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, and grew up in Eatonville, Florida. She died in Fort Pierce, in 1960. In 1973, Alice Walker had a headstone placed at her gravesite with this epitaph: "Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South."

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2017

    In 1927, iconic African American writer Hurston interviewed 95-year-old Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade, smuggled from Africa on the final slave ship to arrive in the United States. Astonishingly, this account of their conversations has never before been published. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2018
    A newly discovered work of anthropological and historical reportage by the canonical African-American writer.Cudjo Lewis (c. 1841-1935), originally named Kossola, was enslaved in America for five years. An Isha Yoruba from the town of Bantè, he arrived in Alabama as the Civil War was stirring. A student of the pioneering ethnologist Franz Boas, Hurston (Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-Tales from the Gulf States, 2001, etc.) conducted a series of interviews with Lewis toward the end of his life, in 1927, who, on learning of her interest, said, "Thankee Jesus! Somebody come ast about Cudjo! I want tellee somebody who I is, so maybe day go in de Afficky soil some day and callee my name and somebody say, 'Yeah, I know Kossola.' " The initial manuscript, a scholarly article, fell into disrepute when, in the 1970s, scholars discerned that it borrowed heavily from existing literature. This fuller manuscript derives from Hurston's original fieldwork, so that there is no question of plagiarism. Editor Plant observes that in the work, Hurston "was engaged in the process of actualizing her vision of herself as a social scientist and an artist who was determined to present Kossola's story in as authentic a manner as possible." That authenticity includes rendering his words in patois. While Hurston writes that even though Kossola's account is not strictly historical, it serves "to emphasize his remarkable memory." That mark of the griot, or West African traditional storyteller, is evident as Kossola recounts moments of resistance, as when enslaved women rose up against a vicious overseer: "dey all jump on him and lashee him wid it. He doan never try whip Affican women no mo'." Such episodes, including one in which Kossola tried to convince his former owner to give the manumitted slaves some of the land on which he worked, are historically valuable indeed, while his renderings of biblical stories and West African folktales are of ethnographic interest.We are fortunate to have this late work of Hurston's, which is sure to be widely read.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 26, 2018
    This previously unpublished manuscript from Hurston (1891–1960) is a remarkable account of the life of Kossola, also known as Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of the last American slave ship. Before writing Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston was working as an anthropologist in 1927 when she traveled to Plateau, Ala., to interview 86-year-old Kossola. Returning to Plateau in 1931 for three months, Hurston documented Kossola’s life story in this short manuscript, whose brevity disguises its richness and depth. Consisting primarily of transcriptions from their conversations, Kossola recalls his capture in Africa, the Middle Passage, his five and a half years as a slave, the Civil War, the struggles following Emancipation, and the terrors after Reconstruction (his son was killed by a deputy sheriff in 1902). Kossola was 19 years old when he was sold into slavery; thus, his accounts of folkways and traditions (e.g., the decapitated heads hanging from the belts of the Dahomian warriors who captured him) offer more graphic and personal immediacy than other surviving narratives of the slave trade, like those of Equiano or Gronniosaw, who were small children at the time of their capture. While Hurston acknowledges that her account “makes no attempt to be a scientific document, but on the whole is rather accurate,” Kossola’s story—in the vernacular of his own words—is an invaluable addition to American social, cultural, and political history.

  • Toni Morrison "One of the greatest writers of our time."
  • Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple  "Zora Neale Hurston's genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece."
  • NPR "Short enough to be read in a single sitting, this book is one of those gorgeous, much too fleeting things...Brimming with observational detail from a man whose life spanned continents and eras, the story is at times devastating, but Hurston's success in bringing it to light is a marvel."
  • New York Times "A profound impact on Hurston's literary legacy."
  • Lily Rothman, Time "With its historically valuable first-hand account of slavery and freedom, Barracoon speaks straight to the 21st-century world into which it has emerged—almost a century after it was written."
  • People "Though both Hurston and Lewis are long gone, Hurston's account of the former slave's life serves as a timely reminder of our shared humanity—and the consequences that can occur if we forget it."
  • Huffington Post "Barracoon and its long path to print is a testament to Zora's singular vision amid so many competing pressures that continue to put us at war with ourselves."
  • The Guardian "[Barracoon's] belated publication of her phonetic transcription offers spine-chilling access to one of modernity's great crimes, an atrocity that, when described by a victim, suddenly becomes far less distant."
  • Tayari Jones, Washington Post "Zora Neale Hurston's recovered masterpiece, Barracoon, is a stunning addition to several overlapping canons of American literature."
  • Essence "Zora Neale Hurston has left an indelible legacy on the literary community and commanded an influential place in Black history."
  • Vibe "A posthumously-released work of acclaimed Harlem Renaissance-era writer Zora Neale Hurston offers a chilling firsthand look at the horrors of the slave trade."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "An invaluable addition to American social, cultural, and political history."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Sure to be widely read."
  • Vulture "Barracoon is a testament to [Zora's] patient fieldwork"
  • Parade "Barracoon is an impactful story that will stick with you long after the final page."
  •  Garden & Gun "A profound work that shows a writer in the process of gathering a landmark story."
  • Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun "Barracoon is a powerful, breathtakingly beautiful, and at times, heart wrenching, account of one man's story, eloquently told in his own language. Zora Neale Hurston gives Kossola control of his narrative— a gift of freedom and humanity. It completely reinforces for me the fact that Zora Neale Hurston was both a cultural anthropologist and a truly gifted, and compassionate storyteller, who sat in the sometimes painful silence with Kossola and the depth and breadth of memory as a slave. Such is a narrative filled with emotions and histories bursting at the intricately woven seams."
  • Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Life on Mars and Wade in the Water "That Zora Neale Hurston should find and befriend Cudjo Lewis, the last living man with firsthand memory of capture in Africa and captivity in Alabama, is nothing shy of a miracle. Barracoon is a testament to the enormous losses millions of men, women and children endured in both slavery and freedom—a story of urgent relevance to every American, everywhere."
  • Michael Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene "Barracoon is a piece of the puzzle we didn't know we were missing. Ms. Zora has captured through the lens of Cudjo Lewis a glimpse into what the slave trade, Middle Passage, and first steps onto American soil meant for millions. The narrative of Cudjo reminds us of the faith and hope that got us here despite it all."
  • Quartzy "[Zora's] newly published book, released for the first time 87 years after it was written, will shed new light on the author as a historical chronicler."

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