Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Deborah G. Plant

barracoonIn Barracoon, author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) brings the eye and gifts of a novelist, folklorist, and cultural anthropologist to the words and experiences of Cudjo Lewis. Lewis was one of the Africans brought from West Africa to the United States on the last covert slave ship, Clotilda, in 1859, fifty years after the slave trade was outlawed. 

Cudjo Lewis was his American name; he preferred his birth name of Oluale Kossola. Hurston interviewed him in 1927, when he was 86 years of age. He recounted in vivid detail the atrocities African peoples inflicted upon themselves, the greed and inhumanity of slavers, the barracoon huts in which the captured were held, the transatlantic journey, the life of a slave in Alabama, and life after emancipation. She honors Kossola’s storytelling sensibility–rooted as it is in Africa–and maintains his vernacular diction.  

These accounts were too raw for mid-twentieth century publishers, and the manuscript came to light long after Hurston’s death. As author and social activist Alice Walker wrote in her foreword, Zora Neale Hurston “gets the grisly story from one of the last people able to tell it.”


Learn more about Barracoon or order it from our Bookshop HERE.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

The Bookish Life of Nina HillThis book opens with two epigraphs that give us a picture of the protagonist: “Solitude is independence” (Hermann Hesse) and “Independence is happiness” (Susan B. Anthony). Nina Hill, the protagonist, is quite content with her life focused as it is on her cat, Phil; her job in an independent bookstore (Angelenos will recognize the beloved Chevalier’s); and her winning Trivia Contest team, Book ‘Em Danno. She is edged out of her comfortable shell by two concurrent events: the discovery of a family about which she had not known and an unexpected spark of interest in her trivia nemesis, Tom. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is a quirky, funny, and deeply thoughtful read. Pure enjoyment.


Learn more about The Bookish Life of Nina Hill or order it from our Bookshop HERE.

Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom; Witty, Wicked, and Wise Reflections on Well-Lived Lives

Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom; Witty, Wicked, and Wise Reflections on Well-Lived Lives

Review by: Leslie Nordby

Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom; Witty, Wicked, and Wise Reflections on Well-Lived Lives by Dr. Lois Frankel. 

Dr. Frankel is a psychotherapist, executive coach and now a documenter of women’s unique lives. The women included were septuagenarian to nonagenarian, with a few centenarians; some are from an earlier time and are deceased; others very much alive. The book opens with the Hasidic Proverb, “For the unlearned, old age is winter. For the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”

This is a treasure trove of wisdom from women who revel in their season of harvest. Full of life stories, memorable quotes, gentle advice, insights and inspiration, the book’s text is complemented throughout by the artwork of Lisa Graves- photos of contributors, photos of nature, and charming drawings.

Perhaps the best way to introduce this book is to share some of what the women interviewed said:

  • “Do a good deed and throw it in the flowing river, never expecting anything in return” – ZN, Republic of Georgia
  • “If life gives you lemons…look for the vodka”- JM, California
  • “Change is the one constant. Don’t waste your time looking for stability. Stay open to whatever happens” – EM, Pennsylvania
  • “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” – EL, Scotland
  • “Chi ha tempo non aspetti tempo… simple Italian phrase that means ‘lost time is never found again; do not postpone what you can do now’.” – ND, France

A beautiful homage to the wisdom and ongoing relevance and vitality of elders.


Learn more about Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom or order it at our Bookshop HERE.

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