The iconic and legendary literary figure Zora Neale Hurston does not need to give us any more material to add to her legacy, but Harper Collins has announced that she actually had an unpublished work completed before her death.

Barracoon tells the story of the last known person to survive the transatlantic slave trade, a man named Cudjo Lewis. Many know that Hurston was an acclaimed fiction writer, but here it is her work as an anthropologist that shines. Hurston was able to sit down in the Black community of Plateau, Alabama, which was founded by Cudjo Lewis and other ex-slaves from the ship that brought them to America, and talk with the then 95-year-old Lewis about his life in 1931.

Barracoon takes its title from the kind of ship that Lewis and company were held in—that particular ship was named the Clotilde. Hurston talks with Lewis about memories and experiences from his childhood in Africa up until the end of the American Civil War. Harper Collins is selling the book as a major literary event, “a previously undiscovered and unpublished work by one of the major authors of the 20th Century,” per their website.

Pre-order is available at both Harper Collins and Amazon, likely to be expanded to other sellers. Harper Collins is also stressing the point that this book illuminates the horrors of slavery and is going to be an important read for all Americans.

Barracoon is available for purchase from retailers on May 8, 2018.

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