We at the University of Illinois Press are proud of our historic connection to Zora Neale Hurston through Robert Hemenway’s groundbreaking work, Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography, and through our edition of Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in the late 1970s. So it was with great delight that I saw mention of both of these publications and their important role in the Hurston legacy in today’s New York Times (albeit with no credit to the University of Illinois Press). The article focuses on a new young adult fiction book, Zora and Me, which imagines a young Zora Neale Hurston and two friends as youthful sleuths. If all goes as planned, it will be but the first in a series of books “starring” Hurston.
What a wonderful alternative to supporting the whole American Girl book/doll/accessory/store enterprise. If the book is as true to Hurston’s childhood as the article suggests, it’s a wonderful way to ensure that Zora Neale Hurston and her work will be as beloved by future generations as they are by my own. Though the authors have the ultimate stamp of approval from the Hurston Trust and the recommendation of respected review publications, I hereby announce that I think it’s a fantastic idea, too.