20. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and romantic Black feminist heroines

Today Chelsey and Sara are chatting about Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, the perfect book to discuss on a sweltering summer day. Sara read and did not finish this classic in high school. We talk about where she stopped and why, and how we both have a greater appreciation for this work as adults. We gush about Hurston’s writing, bond over a love of Janie the dreamer, and share some tips for approaching this seminal work of southern literature. 

Our discussion includes:

  • Hurston’s use of dialect [8:08]
  • Our fondness and love for Janie Crawford [12:06]
  • Seamless symbolism: silencing, oppression, and Janie’s relationships [23:20]
  • Reading Tea Cake’s fate symbolically [20:05]

Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic,  including a celebrity memoir and narrative nonfiction.

We will get into some spoilers in this episode, but we must say, we both read summaries prior to reading and think it benefited our reading to know more information going in. Having a prior awareness of plot helped us take in the dialect and rhythm of the story and allowed us to admire Hurston’s writing all the more.

Shop the pairings:  https://bookshop.org/lists/novel-pairings-for-their-eyes-were-watching-god

Chelsey’s Pairings:

Indigo by Beverly Jenkins [43:03]

Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories that are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union [48:13]

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall [55:30]

Jaime’s review

Sara’s Pairings:

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward [38:20]

 Jaime’s review

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson [45:30]Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde [51:07]

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