Spunk: The Selected Stories of Zora Neale Hurston

I think this collection of eight short stories is a great introduction to Zora Neale Hurston. I loved the passion in these stories, the rich dialogue between the characters, and Hurston’s humour. In one story she writes a story (‘Isis’) about a little girl, who I suspect to be Hurston herself, overcome with pity by the hopelessness she sees on her grandmother’s person and decides to shave off her whiskers!

I’ve read Zora’s autobiography ‘Dust Tracks on a Road’ so I recognized the locale of her upbringing in some of these stories. Also, knowing that Hurston was interested in the spiritual world and mythology meant I wasn’t surprised by some of the themes she explored (biblical themes and the supernatural, in particular). Additionally, her respect for different dialects is clear by the fact that she wrote the stories using the southern African-American vernacular. In particular, this quote from ‘Dust Tracks on a Road’ exemplifies her feelings about language: “It seemed to me that the human beings I met reacted pretty much the same to the same stimuli. Different idioms,yes. Circumstances and conditions having power to influence, yes. Inherent difference, no.”

A very enjoyable read.

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