Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an African American novelist in the first half of the 20th century. She was also an anthropologist and a folklorist. What an impressive bio for a not only an African American during that time, but also an African American woman of that time. While she wrote a few novels and multiple short stories, Hurston is most famous for Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937.
In her most recognized novel, Hurston writes about an African American woman named Janie who has many expectations for her life but learns that everything is not what she expected it to be. The story follows her marriages to three different men and her quest for love, the way she deserves to be loved. The novel encompasses themes such as gender roles, race, and women’s value in marriage.
This is the second time I’ve read this novel, the first time being when I was a freshman in high school. While the story may be an everyday story of finding love, the language that Hurston uses brings the ordinary to the extraordinary. Everyone I talk to about this novel has reminisced about the beautiful language… and that’s about it. The language is what makes this story truly remarkable.
I read this novel in February for Black History Month and it really is a testament to the strength and courage of Zora Neale Hurston. To write such a memorable book with such beautiful prose is an accomplishment for anyone, but to do it in a time of such hatred and ugliness really is a triumph.
If you’ve not read this novel yet, I really recommend it for anyone.