Kansas City Star
W hen Zora Neale Hurston's second novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was published in 1937, no one in the academic and literary circles who knew her seemed to know what to make of it.
Her fellow African-American novelist Richard Wright accused Hurston of being firmly ensconced “in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live.” Alain Locke, who taught Hurston at Howard University, belittled the book as mere “folklore fiction” that failed to have any wider social impact.
Time has shown nothing could be further from the truth. By writing a novel in her own voice — that of a black woman who considered everyone's story valid, not just those that resonated with middle-class intellectuals — Hurston had, indeed, made literary history.