Prolific novelist and essayist Zora Neale Hurston will have one more book added to her catalog, posthumously.
The work titled, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” traces the origins of Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the U.S. slave trade. Over a series of interviews, Hurston was able to uncover Lewis’ beginnings–from the raid that captured him in Africa, to his life after reconstruction.
Hurston met Lewis in 1927 when he was 95-years-old. He settled in Plateau, Alabama, where Hurston returned multiple times to conduct research on his life.
“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 20th Century, Barracoon brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and one life forever defined by it,” according to a release from publisher HarperCollins. “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.”
Lewis was born Oluale Kossola in Benin in 1841. He was captured in 1860 and spent 45 days crossing the Atlantic. He was sold to ship captain James Meaher and enslaved until 1865.
Barracoon is the second work published after Hurston’s death in 1960. Her collection of folktales, Every Tongue Got to Confess, was released by the Smithsonian archives in 2001. Her most popular novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God is heralded as a sweeping account of the hardships faced by women in the rural south and is a pivotal piece of work in the American literary canon.
Baracoon will be released on May 8, 2018.
SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly