New Year, Grab Bag, and an Interview
If you’re interested in my literary new year’s resolutions (and a giveaway of The Heroine’s Bookshelf), you should head over to The Literate Housewife, who is currently featuring me on her blog.
And now, before I plunge into book proposal writing for the new year, is a little treat for you. I spoke to Diane Burrowes in Harper’s academic marketing department to learn a bit more about Harper’s involvement with Their Eyes Were Watching God and the Zora Neale Hurston estate.
EB: How did HP end up publishing Zora books?
DB: Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God met significant commercial success. Somewhat forgotten after her death, Zora Neale Hurston was rediscovered by a number of black authors in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and reintroduced to a greater readership by Alice Walker in her 1972 essay “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” written for Ms. magazine. Long out of print, the book was reissued after a petition was circulated at the Modern Language Association Convention in 1975, and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel of American fiction. J. B. Lippincott & Co published Their Eyes Were Watching God in 1937. Their Eyes Were Watching God came to HarperCollins Publishers when Harper & Row merged with Lippincott in the 1970s.
EB: What’s the most rewarding/challenging part of working with a classic?
DB: It’s rewarding to work on a timeless classic. To learn of people constantly discovering books and learning of new readers’ reactions to the books are hugely gratifying. It’s also been wonderful to work with Zora’s heirs on the ongoing campaign to promote her work.
EB: Any facts that surprised you as you embarked on this?
DB: Discovering Zora’s own life is one of the fascinating things about working on her books.
EB: Why should readers still think of Zora’s work as relevant?
DB: Her books are the story of a woman discovering herself and her own abilities. They go across color and gender lines and are really about a person discovering his or her inner worth and own selfhood.
Thanks for weighing in, Diane! Dear readers…what’s on your literary list for 2012?