With a few exceptions . . . black fiction has failed to produce the full, self-sustaining humorous hero, primarily because humor is out of place in what is basically a tragic literature.
-- Roger Rosenblatt1
I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it . . . No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
-- Zora Neale Hurston2
The world has finally rediscovered Zora Neale Hurston. Her books are back in print, a new wave of black women writers have claimed her as their literary ancestor, and today's generation is eagerly exploring Eatonville and its citizens in the nation's classrooms. Zora must be somewhere, ridin' high and having the last laugh. Appropriately, when the New York Times Book Review recently published a front-page piece on Hurston, they included a great photo: Zora looks out at us, laughing, from the front seat of her Chevy, during one of her folklore collecting trips in the South. 3
Why did readers turn away from this supremely gifted artist? Although Zora Neale Hurston suffered some outrageous slings and arrows for being born black