ContemporaryThe Other Black Girl by Zakia Dalia Harris

The Other Black Girl by Zakia Dalia Harris


Chaya and I often get asked if we *always* like the same books and of course we don’t. But we are cautious here; we wont use this space to bash somebody’s work as we would never *ever* feel comfortable and we completely understand how subjective books are. If we both really don’t enjoy something, we don’t review it.

For me, this story of two Black women, Nella and Hazel, in the notoriously White publishing industry in the States was thoroughly gripping. I found myself entirely absorbed by the writing and their experiences at Wagner, a prestigious publishing house. When it comes down to the crunch, how many Black girls are there actually room for?

The novel takes a sudden turn in the latter part, which I admit threw me. It seems to change genre almost, moving into the realms of dystopia and magical realism, which I don’t think any reader could have seen coming. I personally think the novel would have been stronger had this been suggested at earlier on, but I can’t deny that I remained gripped from the first page until the last. So though this one is tricky to sum up and even trickier to pigeon hole, I would certainly recommend it. Nobody likes being pigeon-holed anyways, right?!

~ Sophie

As Sophie says, when I don’t like a book I don’t write about it, even if we have been kindly sent a copy. The Other Black Girl is one I am still wrestling with however I think the inherent issues skilfully portrayed are so important I had to review.

I’ve seen this featured in a host of must read lists and articles, but I didn’t hugely enjoy reading it and I can’t elucidate why that is. I was horrified by the tokenism and abject racism Nella experiences, in fact I recognised elements of the plot, particularly with the stereotyped characters that Nella courageously calls out. I found the setting of a publishing house fascinating and the pressurised environment created compelling.

The plot’s final twist hit me like a ton of bricks and I really didn’t understand it conceptually. However I am honestly still thinking about it which many books don’t achieve and I can’t help but think that is what the author wanted

~ Chaya [Ad:PR Copy]

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