New D+Q: Peter Bagge's Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

Yesterday, veteran cartoonist Peter Bagge was at the store to launch his latest work, Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story. For those who missed it, watch this space for the recap blog, which will be posted soon.

Zora Neale Hurston, renowned novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and key member of the Harlem Renaissance, hardly needs an introduction! Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), her second novel, written while doing scholarly research in Haiti, is an enduring classic of Black American literature, having fortunately been brought back to public attention in the mid-70s by Alice Walker.

Fire!! takes its name (and its lettering) from the Harlem-based magazine for and by Black artists and writers, created in 1926 by Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Aaron Douglas, Richard Bruce and John Davis. This was a new, radical publication, showcasing work that was shunned by those upwardly mobile African American writers and artists who were concerned with "decency." Like Hurston herself, the magazine did not shy away from complexity, controversy, or contradiction, and focused on a variety of Black experiences, encompassing class struggle and queerness, among other subjects and perspectives.

Bagge draws from an array of primary and secondary sources in order to trace Hurston's life: her childhood in late 19th century Florida, the jobs she had to work to support herself, the phases of her artistic practice, her central relationships, and her staunch, enterprising character.

Make sure not to skip the substantial endnotes! They are full of archival photos, and offer important context and intriguing asides. Above is a photo portrait of Hurston, taken by Carl Van Vechten.

Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story is now in stock at the Librairie. We also stock titles by Hurston herself!

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