Author Zora Neale Hurston, best known for the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, passed away in 1960. Now, more than half a century after her death, a previously unpublished nonfiction work by Hurston is headed to print. According to the Black Youth Project, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” tells the true, firsthand account of Cudjo Lewis, who is reportedly the last living survivor of the transatlantic slave trade in America. (The title is taken from the kind of barracks enslaved people were imprisoned in before being transported to the New World; the name of the specific ship that trafficked Lewis to the U.S. was the Clotilde.) Per HarperCollins’s description, Hurston first met with 95-year-old Lewis in 1927 to discuss his life and illegal seizure into slavery. In 1931, Hurston returned to Lewis’s town of Plateau, Alabama, for three months to interview him about his childhood in Africa, abduction, and enslavement in the U.S. until the end of the Civil War. The book, currently available for preorder, will hit bookstore shelves on May 8, 2018.
Zora Neale Hurston. Photo: CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images