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Description - Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd

Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most influential African-American writers of the twentieth century, was a woman of enormous talent, remarkable drive and intellectual prowess. She published four novels, including her most famous, Their Eyes Were Watching God, two books of folklore, an autobiography, short stories and plays. Yet though she enjoyed some popularity during her lifetime, her greatest acclaim came posthumously. Nearly every black woman writer of significance - including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker - acknowledges Zora Neale Hurston as their literary foremother. Wrapped in Rainbows is a compelling profile of this intrepid and inspiring woman. Valerie Boyd presents a full picture of the writer and the woman.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781860499968
ISBN-10: 1860499961
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 126mm x mm)
Pages: 640
Imprint: Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 2-Sep-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd

Book Reviews - Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd

UK Kirkus Review » Although its subject is a writer, this is far more than a standard literary biography. At least part of that may be due to the fact that Zora Neale Hurston was not only a superlatively talented author but heavily involved in theatre and dance, and conducted extensive anthropological research. For some years after her death, Hurston, one of the leading African-American novelists of the early 20th century, was largely forgotten, but the efforts of her successors, such as Alice Walker and Maya Angelou, have begun to restore her to her proper place in history, and this enthralling tale of an extraordinary life can only help bring her work to a wider audience. Brought up under segregation in an exclusively black Southern town, Hurston was a highly intelligent and adventurous child who knew from an early age that her destiny was to travel and to be creative. After her beloved mother died and her preacher father remarried a much younger woman, she left home and the fragments that can be assembled of her experiences between the ages 16 and 26 paint a miserable picture of poverty and frustration. All this was to change when, in a stroke of outrageous daring, she shaved a full ten years off her age in order to finish her high-school education. This was to prove a masterly plan, for she ended up a student at the prestigious Barnard College, studying and mixing socially with her white peers, an unusual phenomenon in the 1920s. But it was in Harlem where her heart lay, and she was soon at the very heart of the 'Negro Renaissance', partying all night, writing all day and adored for her glamour and verve by all who met her. Although she came to fiction late, she won critical praise for her precise ear for the idioms and rhythms of Southern speech, and her short stories and novels won wide acclaim. Her academic work, under the kindly tuition of anthropologist Franz Boas, was occasionally stymied by her lack of organization, but no one could fault the rigour with which she gathered material, her ability to tell a good story and win people's hearts, putting her at a distinct advantage over those of her (white) colleagues who also wished to study the folklore of America's black population. Yet Hurston's life was not a straightforward rags-to-riches tale. She struggled financially for most of her life, dependent on stipends from wealthy white patrons, and although she was to marry on several occasions, romantic happiness was to elude her. Shortly before she died, she was caught up in a scandalous court case involving underage sex (she was exonerated of all charges), and she was left without a publisher. Valerie Boyd does not view Zora Neale Hurston through rose-tinted glasses, but she presents an extraordinary detailed - and copiously annotated - account of a joyful and exhilarating life lived by an amazing woman decades ahead of her time. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Valerie Boyd

She is an arts editor and book critic at The Atlantic Journal-Constitution.