Yuval Taylor’s third book with the agency, Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal, will be published by W.W. Norton in March 2019. His previous books are FakingIt: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music (written in collaboration with Hugh Barker, and published in 2007), and Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop (written in collaboration with Jake Austen and published in 2012).
Two giants of the Harlem Renaissance and American literature, Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Are Watching God) and Langston Hughes (The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Let America Be America Again) were collaborators, literary gadflies, and close companions. They traveled together in Hurston’s broken-down car through the rural South collecting folklore, worked on the play “Mule Bone,” and wrote scores of loving letters to each other. They even had the same patron: wealthy Charlotte Osgood Mason, a white woman who insisted on being called “Godmother.” Paying them lavishly while trying to control their work, she may have been the spark for their bitter falling out. Was the split inevitable when Hughes decided to be financially independent of Mason? Was Hurston jealous of the woman employed as their secretary? Or was it over the authorship of “Mule Bone”? Zora and Langston answers these questions while illuminating Hurston and Hughes’s lives, work, sense of competition, and desire for success.
In addition to his three books, Yuval has been a Senior Editor for Chicago Review Press, and has edited three volumes of African American slave narratives. His writings have appeared in The Antioch Review, The Guardian, and other publications. He lives in Chicago.