Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"256
Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"256
New York Times Bestseller • TIME Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 • New York Public Library’s Best Book of 2018 • NPR’s Book Concierge Best Book of 2018 • Economist Book of the Year • SELF.com’s Best Books of 2018 • Audible’s Best of the Year • BookRiot’s Best Audio Books of 2018 • The Atlantic’s Books Briefing: History, Reconsidered • Atlanta Journal Constitution, Best Southern Books 2018 • The Christian Science Monitor’s Best Books 2018 •
“A profound impact on Hurston’s literary legacy.”—New York Times
“One of the greatest writers of our time.”—Toni Morrison
“Zora Neale Hurston’s genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece.”—Alice Walker
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, brilliantly 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—abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. 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.
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About the Author
Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. She wrote four novels (Jonah’s Gourd Vine, 1934; Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937; Moses, Man of the Mountain, 1939; and Seraph on the Suwanee, 1948); two books of folklore (Mules and Men, 1935, and Tell My Horse, 1938); an autobiography (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942); an international bestselling nonfiction work (Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” 2018); and over fifty short stories, essays, and plays. She attended Howard University, Barnard College, and Columbia University and was a graduate of Barnard College in 1928. She was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, and grew up in Eatonville, Florida.
Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and an American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. She has written numerous poems, essays, and short stories, including her most recent book, The Way Forward is With a Broken Heart. Originally published in 1974, Langston Hughes: American Poet was Alice Walker's first book for children. This picture book biography is now back in print with a new author's note and beautiful new illustrations. Ms. Walker lives in Northern California.
Deborah G. Plant is an African American and Africana Studies Independent Scholar, Writer, and Literary Critic specializing in the life and works of Zora Neale Hurston. She is editor of the New York Times bestseller Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston and the author of Alice Walker: A Woman for Our Times, a philosophical biography. She is also editor of The Inside Light: New Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston, and the author of Zora Neale Hurston: A Biography of the Spirit and Every Tub Must Sit On Its Own Bottom: The Philosophy and Politics of Zora Neale Hurston. She holds MA and Ph. D. degrees in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Plant played an instrumental role in founding the University of South Florida’s Department of Africana Studies, where she chaired the department for five years. She presently resides in Florida.
Date of Birth:January 7, 1891
Date of Death:January 28, 1960
Place of Birth:Eatonville, Florida
Place of Death:Fort Pierce, Florida
Education:B.A., Barnard College, 1928 (the school's first black graduate). Went on to study anthropology at Columbia University.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Those Who Love Us Never Leave Us Alone with Our Grief: Reading Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" Alice Walker xi
Editor's Note xxix
II The King Arrives 25
VI Barracoon 51
VII Slavery 59
VIII Freedom 65
IX Marriage 71
X Kossula Learns About Law 77
XII Alone 91
Takkoi or Attako-Children's Game 95
Stories Kossula Told Me 96
The Monkey and the Camel 101
Story of de Jonah 103
Now Disa Abraham Fadda de Faitful 106
The Lion Woman 107
Afterword and Additional Materials Edited Deborah G. Plant
Founders and Original Residents of Africatown 145
"In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" Alice Walker 175
Readers' Guide 203
More Zora Neale Hurston 207
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