"Barracoon is an impactful story that will stick with you long after the final page."--Parade
"A profound impact on Hurston's literary legacy."--New York Times
"Zora Neale Hurston's recovered masterpiece, Barracoon, is a stunning addition to several overlapping canons of American literature."--Tayari Jones, Washington Post
"An invaluable addition to American social, cultural, and political history."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Sure to be widely read."--Kirkus Reviews
"Barracoon is a testament to [Zora's] patient fieldwork"--Vulture
"One of the greatest writers of our time."--Toni Morrison
"Zora Neale Hurston's genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece."--Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple
"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."--NPR
Abducted from Africa, sold in America.
“A deeply affecting record of an extraordinary life”- Daily Telegraph
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.
This account 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.
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who was abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States. 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.