Zora Neale Hurston was an American novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and anthropologist. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays.
Zora Neale Hurston knew how to make an entrance. On May 1, 1925, at a literary awards dinner sponsored by Opportunity magazine, the earthy Harlem newcomer turned heads and raised eyebrows as she claimed four awards: a second-place fiction prize for her short story "Spunk," a second-place award in drama for her play Color Struck, and two honorable mentions.
The names of the writers who beat out Hurston for first place that night would soon be forgotten. But the name of the second-place winner buzzed on tongues all night, and for days and years to come. Lest anyone forget her, Hurston made a wholly memorable entrance at a party following the awards dinner. She strode into the room--jammed with writers and arts patrons, black and white--and flung a long, richly colored scarf around her neck with dramatic flourish as she bellowed a reminder of the title of her winning play: "Colooooooor Struuckkkk!" Her exultant entrance literally stopped the party for a moment, just as she had intended. In this way, Hurston made it known that a bright and powerful presence had arrived. By all accounts, Zora Neale Hurston could walk into a roomful of strangers and, a few minutes and a few stories later, leave them so completely charmed that they often found themselves offering to help her in any way they could.
Gamely accepting such offers--and employing her own talent and scrappiness--Hurston became the most successful and most significant black woman writer of the first half of the 20th century. Over a career that spanned more than 30 years, she published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays.
Zora Neale Hurston is considered one of the titans of twentieth-century African American literature. Although Hurston was closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance and has influenced such writers as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, and Toni Cade Bambara, interest in her has only recently been revived after decades of neglect. Hurston's four novels and two books of folklore are important sources of black myth and legend. Through her writings, Robert Hemenway wrote in The Harlem Renaissance Remembered, Hurston "helped to remind the Renaissance--especially its more bourgeois members--of the richness in the racial heritage; she also added new dimensions to the interest in exotic primitivism that was one of the most ambiguous products of the age."