Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo."

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo." Amistad: HarperCollins. May 2018. 208p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780062748201. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062748225. SOC SCI
Novelist Zora Neale Hurston drafted Barracoon in 1931, but the work has never been published until now. At once a work of anthropology, folklore, and reminiscence, the book relates the interviews Hurston conducted in 1927 with Cudjo Lewis (1840–1935), the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade. Much of Lewis's retelling focuses on growing up in a Yoruba village in West Africa, his capture by slavers and transport on the Middle Passage in 1860, and life after emancipation in helping to build Africatown, a refuge former slaves established near Mobile, AL. Lewis describes his brutal enslavement and the racism that followed his emancipation. Hurston demonstrates interest, even shock, at what Lewis chooses to tell her. This is a rare account of the full experience of enslavement from capture to "freedom," and a revealing look at Hurston's maturing as a folklorist sensitive to dialect and interviewees' authority over their own stories. This first edition of Barracoon gains from author Deborah Plant's introduction, which places Hurston's work in historical and literary context and addresses her folkloristic approach to frame Lewis's interviews.
VERDICT A brief book that tells a significant story; for fans of Hurston and African American and world history. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/17.]
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