The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A Family Finds Meaning in "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

Cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Image courtesy of Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Oftentimes, books we read in childhood and adolescence become touchstones throughout our lives. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is undoubtedly one such book for many people. In this 1937 novel, Hurston wove together her skills as an anthropologist, as a storyteller, and as a playwright. In dazzling language that’s deeply rooted in the American South, Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janey Crawford, and her struggle for independence, her marriages to three very different men, and her journey through communities in rural Florida. The book also showed that black culture was a world unto itself, a world that was filled with the poetry of everyday life. But beyond its cultural and literary impact, the novel also carries deeply personal meaning for many readers. For Maggie Linton, the program director for the Book Channel on SiriusXM Radio, her family's first edition copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God has resonance almost as compelling as the story itself. [3:29]


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