When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Refusing to compromise in spite of society's expectations, Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds. This book is a part of my character now - that's how many times I've read it. I don't look to fiction to find heroes, but I have to admit that Janie has meant more to me than any other character. She's singing my song, somehow. And you realise the breadth of Hurston's talent when you find out how many other people feel exactly the same way' Zadie Smith
* Zora Neale Hurston's masterpiece is perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.
'For me, Their eyes were watching God is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive. There is no novel I love more' Zadie Smith
In the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston was the preeminent black woman writer in the United States. She died in 1960 in a Welfare home, was buried in an unmarked grave, and quickly faded from literary consciousness until 1975 when Alice Walker almost single-handedly revived interest in her work.