We inadvertently took July off from the Read Great Books literature challenge, for no reason other than the summer is busy, everyone has their own pile of books to read, and I felt sure that most of us were peeking at (or abstaining from) Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman after we read and discussed To Kill A Mockingbird last month.
But now that it's been a few weeks, let's get back to it.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was published in 1937 and is now regarded as one of the most important works for both African-American literature and women's literature. However the novel is studied and applauded now, it was widely criticized and dismissed upon its release. Set in an all-black town in Florida at the beginning of the century, Their Eyes Were Watching God is the coming-of-age story of a young Janie Crawford.
During the years the novel was written was published, there was a directive to African-American artists to use their work to combat racial stereotypes and to make important political statements. Hurston rejected this idea, and wrote her characters and her story as she saw them, as she experienced them in her hometown of Eatonville (also the setting of the book), celebrating especially women's sexuality. Many of her black contemporaries dismissed the book as unserious or immature, and lamented that the novel wasn't "better." But several of the mainstream white critics praised the book, and deemed the themes universal.
I chose this book because one of my college professors referred to it often, and I didn't get around to picking it up back then. It has stayed on my radar since.
We'll be discussing the short novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston on Thursday, August 27th at 5pmPT/8pmET. Join us by RSVP'ing here. We always have amazon gift card giveaways and interesting conversation on these evenings. Hope to see you there!