Decatur, Ga.—The life — and novels — of Zora Neale Hurston had almost faded from literary memory when Valerie Boyd read her book, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” while a college student at Northwestern University in the 1980s. Boyd became an instant fan.
“I felt like she was my strong connection, like she was my literary grandmother, and I started reading all of her work,” Boyd said. Boyd would later write the award-winning biography, “Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston.”
Boyd will be talking about Hurston, and the author’s first book, “Barracoon,” during the opening session of Georgia State University’s literary festival, “Revival: Lost Southern Voices,” April 12-13. The festival, which celebrates underappreciated Southern literary and artistic voices, is in its third year.
“Barracoon,” is the story of Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of a slave ship. It was written by Hurston in 1931, but remained unpublished until 2018.
The event is being hosted at two sites. The opening session begins at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12, in the Georgia Center for the Book Auditorium in DeKalb Public Library in Decatur. On Saturday, April 13, the program begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Jim Cherry Learning Resource Center Auditorium, on Georgia State University’s Clarkston Campus.
Lost Southern Voices is co-directed by Georgia State University Perimeter College professors Jennifer Colatosti and Andy Rogers, and Georgia State University’s Kenneth M. England Professor of Literature, Pearl McHaney.
The festival is free and open to the public but registration is requested. There is an option of paying to purchase lunch for Saturday. The reservation deadline for lunch is 4 p.m., Thursday, April 11.
Check out the festival’s tentative schedule of speakers.