Bara­coon

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN MEAGHER

Zora Neale Hurston

HQ, 208 pages, €12.60

This never-be­fore-pub­lished work, from the ac­claimed African-Amer­i­can who died in 1960, bril­liantly il­lu­mi­nates the tragedy of slav­ery and one life for­ever de­fined by it.

Sub­ti­tled The Story of the Last Slave, it tells the grip­ping true story of one of the last sur­vivors of the At­lantic Slave Trade and his fight for free­dom. Af­ter be­ing il­le­gally smug­gled as “Black Cargo” 50 years af­ter the abo­li­tion of slav­ery, Cudjo Lewis spent nearly six years in cap­tiv­ity be­fore be­ing fi­nally eman­ci­pated. In Hurston’s words, he casts light on the cir­cum­stances of his cap­ture and his de­ten­tion in a bar­ra­coon — a slave bar­racks — be­fore em­bark­ing on his jour­ney through the Mid­dle Pas­sage to his ar­rival in the Unites States on the Al­abama River.

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