Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick
Zora Neale Hurston, Read by Aunjanue Ellis

Book cover image

Narrated By: Aunjanue Ellis

Duration: 8 hours and 57 minutes

What to expect

From ‘one of the greatest writers of our time’ (Toni Morrison) – the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God and Barracoon – a collection of remarkable short stories from the Harlem Renaissance

With a foreword by Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

‘Genius’ Alice Walker

‘Rigorous, convincing, dazzling’ Zadie Smith on Their Eyes Were Watching God

In 1925, college student Zora Neale Hurston – the sole black student at Barnard College, New York – was living in the city, ‘desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.’

During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognised as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s ‘lost’ Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives.

These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humour, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.

Genre

Short stories, Feminism & feminist theory

Listen to a sample

‘wickedly funny’ THE OBSERVER NEW REVIEW

‘Published in one gorgeous volume for the first time … [these] stories are fascinating, harrowing and beautifully written’ Stylist

‘this collection reaffirms [Hurston’s] status as a truly visionary writer.’ Vogue UK

‘the rediscovery of [Hurston’s] work has been one of the literary joys of recent decades.’ The Financial Times

‘Illuminating’, ‘every day is a good day to read Zora Neale Hurston’s brilliant writing’ REFINERY29

‘[A] jewel of the Harlem Renaissance’ New Statesman

Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick … helps illuminate Hurston’s path to iconic status’ ‘Add [Hurston’s] matchless powers of observation, exemplary fidelity to idiomatic speech and irresistible engagement with folklore, and the outcome is a collection of value to more than Hurston completists. Any addition to her awe-inspiring oeuvre should be met with open arms.’ New York Times Book Review

‘Fans and scholars of Hurston’s work and the uninitiated alike will find many delights in these complex, thoughtful and wickedly funny portraits of black lives and communities… [this] is a significant testament to the enduring resonance of black women’s writing.’ Washington Post

‘Decades on, this new collection is a powerful reminder of [Zora Neale Hurston’s] lasting resonance.’ Time Magazine

‘Fluid, polymathic voice; what a class act’ Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times

Praise for Barracoon

‘A searing reminder of how recently American slavery ended, and the depth of the pain it caused’ The Economist

‘A deeply affecting record of an extraordinary life’ Daily Telegraph

Barracoon and its long path to print is a testament to Zora’s singular vision amid so many competing pressures that continue to put us at war with ourselves’ Huffington Post