How dare Zora Neale Hurston author the African-American feminist classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, yet hate the New Deal, blast Brown v. Board of Education’s desegregation demand, and endorse Republican conservatives like Robert Taft!?
As inconceivable as Hurston’s heresies may be, her popularity today is even more incredible. She died so abandoned that neighbors had to contribute money to bury her—but couldn’t afford a tombstone. Today, Time considers Hurston’s “great tale of black female survival” one of its All-Time 100 Novels. On Amazon, we learn it’s “perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African-American literature,” that it’s “Not only groundbreaking as a piece of feminist literature, but also as one of the first books of its kind written about the African-American community.”
Credit the novelist Alice Walker with this literary resuscitation. In 1973, Walker found Hurston’s grave—and marked it. In a 1975 Ms. essay, she reintroduced Hurston to the world.