Tag Archives: Scott

Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

I didn’t much enjoy Their Eyes Were Watching God, to be honest.  It has been so long since I read it, though, that I can’t remember why. In any case, I didn’t ever expect to read another work by Zora Neale Hurston. But when I ran across Moses, Man of the Mountain, the summary was so intriguing to me that I decided to give it a go.

A reimagining of the Book of Exodus, told from an African-American perspective.

Hurston, having travelled the American South and the Caribbean as an anthropologist, uses the knowledge gained by those experiences to recast the Book of Exodus from a black American perspective. Moses, long a hero of black folklore and song is now the black hero of the Exodus story, the emancipator of slaves. The plagues, the signs, the mighty works are fruits of his righteousness but also his knowledge of hoodoo.  And freeing the slaves was just the first of his tasks, for he then has to form them into a new nation, give them a new identity, and free them from a slave mindset.

Beyond providing a deeper understanding of Exodus, Hurston challenges the reader to examine their own role in society. For if the Hebrews are to be associated with the black American slaves, then white Americans, largely Christian and so used to identifying with the Hebrews themselves, must realize they have more in common with the Egyptians.  Moreover, the book was published in 1939 amidst Jewish persecution in Europe, drawing an obvious parallel between Pharoah and Hitler.

The book is not heavy though – it is entertaining, even humorous. A real delight. And when I finished, I went back for more. I immediately checked out Hurston’s Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica.

– Review by Scott, Main Library

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson, founding member of the Affrilachian Poets and Kentucky’s current Poet Laureate, is an outstanding author even among our state’s especially rich history of lyrical storytellers. Set in the fictional rural, black township of Opulence, Kentucky, this 2016 novel gives voice to the lives of generations of women of the Goode and Brown families in the twentieth century. The reader floats through the hidden lives of these characters, suffering along with them the abuses and losses they experience and the pressure of living up to community moral expectations (or at least avoiding becoming the subject of local gossip and scorn). But there are also the joyful experiences – the public celebrations, family reunions. And above all there is love: the intensity of the romantic loves and the complexity of the love that binds the families.

Wilkinson brings to life for us a much different time when magic was much more real and connections to the land, to family, and to the community were uninterrupted by our current pace of life, industrialization, digitalization, and urbanization.

– Review by Scott, Main Library