(CBS Native)– Lots can change in a couple of years and creator Zakiya Dalila Harris would be the first to inform you that. Two years in the past she was working in publishing as an editor and as we speak she is a New York Occasions bestseller because of her excellent debut novel referred to as “The Other Black Girl.” The ebook has been chosen by ebook golf equipment on the New York Public Library and Good Morning America and has resonated with audiences throughout the nation in a profound manner.
The novel is about two Black ladies named Nella and Hazel who’re navigating the predominately white world of ebook publishing in New York. The ebook has been described as “Get Out” meets “The Devil Wears Prada.” CBS Native’s DJ Sixsmith talked with Harris about how she went from quitting her job in publishing to changing into a best-selling creator, what she needed to say about privilege and racism and Black hair.
“I can’t believe the reception. I never imagined it. In 2019, I had just quit my job and I worked in book publishing for two and a half or three years, which is very much what inspired this book in a lot of ways,” mentioned Harris. “I was an editorial assistant for a while and I got promoted to assistant editor and I was really excited about it and about the idea of getting more responsibility and getting to work on all the Black books, but I was also experiencing burnout. I had the idea for this book in January 2019 and from there I just started writing it.”
“The first thing I was thinking about when writing this book was Nella and Hazel, these two Black women who work in this very white work place and what it’s like to have to have this urge to be a community, at least on Nella’s part, and to also have this pressure of also feeling like they have to be a community because they are the two Black people at the office,” mentioned Harris. “There is this truism that we are all supposed to help each other out and we’re supposed to nod at other Black people when we are in the same room, especially when there are mostly white people around. There there is this other sense that there can only be one of us because there are so few of us in so many different industries still. Those two truisms that are at odds are what I was really fascinated by.”
Harris needed to make use of her novel to discover many nuances within the conversations about Black hair and the strain felt to talk for all Black individuals on a regular basis. Some of the fascinating scenes of the novel comes when Nella is in a gathering together with her boss and a well-known creator and she or he is requested to offer her opinion on his ebook. The editorial assistant is not sure whether or not to stay silent or criticize the creator for his troubling depictions of Black characters within the ebook.
“What is the best way to bring about change? Do you sit quietly and work to be within the system and then hopefully bring other people in or do you automatically say what is on your mind,” mentioned Harris. “For someone who is in in this kind of environment, and I had worked in it myself, of being an entry level employee and really worrying about your stature there and making sure you are on the path to promotion and being an editor. It’s a lot of pressure. I wanted to show all the conflicts within Nella. It was intense and therapeutic to write it. It explores things we don’t talk about often.”
Harris’ ebook is accessible now wherever books are bought.
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