Their Eyes Were Watching God

  • by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Narrated by Ruby Dee
  • 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.Originally published in 1937 and long out of print, the book was reissued in 1975 and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel in American fiction.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: I loved this book when I read it, but it wasn't until I listened to Ruby Dee's performance that I realized how much I had missed. Hurston's book is filled with rural Florida dialect and vernacular that is hard to appreciate on the printed page, but becomes poetry in this glorious recording. Dee paints each character vividly with her rich and velvety voice. —Beth Anderson

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What the Critics Say

"For readers who know Hurston's work, this program will be a joy; for those who are lucky and wise enough to discover her here, it will be an exceptional experience." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

perfection


My sister-in-law and I share books, since we have similar tastes. In our latest conversation I suggested a few I'd just finished -- she gave me Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Uhhh...I have to admit, it was not one I wanted to read, and had in fact removed it from my TBR list. Why? Because I tried to watch the Harpo Production in 2005 and didn't feel it (hated it; nod to Sandy's review). The production felt like a piece extrapolated from art twisted for a motive. There was a sense of arrogance to the production, like that you feel when someone thinks they can improve on great art, and goes on to disprove that haughtiness by giving Mona Lisa a bigger smile. I feel vindicated for my harsh opinion -- I don't like to feel like a meany -- by the reviews I just read concerning that debacle:
"Catering to its TV audience, the film largely avoided the more controversial themes of race, gender, and power. "[Wikipedia]
Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly comments, "While the book chews on meaty questions of race and identity, the movie largely resigns itself to the realm of sudsy romance."
New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan writes, "the film is less a literary tribute than a visual fix of Harlequin Romance: Black Southern Series—all sensual soft-core scenes and contemporary, accessible language."
*ouch-ouch-ouch* My purpose in bringing this up is that I had been so turned against this book I was never going to read it, and what a shame. Maybe this will change someone else's mind that turned the channel that day back in 2005.

But, when my sis-in-law said it was her favorite book of all time, I'm always excited to get a recommendation that someone is passionate about. Oh; not Proust, Nabokov, etc., those tomes that intellectuals can discuss together for years...I know they are great gifted writers. I've read them, I get it. But, I can't help but have an affection for the rare humble books that seem to be less about an author's abilities, and more a revelation from their heart. The kind of book so beautiful in its simplicity that it's a piece of the writer's soul that resonates in the reader. Those are the gems you find just once in a while; TEWWG is one of those rarities.

I'm not going to even attempt to describe the book; it would all feel like hyperbole that would cheapen my experience. 10 people can stand in front of a painting and see it differently; read a book and give a different * rating; sip a wine and give you everything from sooty, woodsy, to fruity. If I would have missed this book, I'd have missed one of the best *reading* experiences I've ever had. My caveat here is: I listened to Ruby Dee read this and that made all the difference in the world. Hurston's words come through Dee, and it was amazing. When I think back, I could almost swear my memories are from being in this place with these people -- not just listening to a book. I'll warn that in some spots it's hard to understand Miss Dee, just because she is speaking in the vernacular of another time, another culture (1937) and I don't hear well with one ear.
*FYI: I never did figure out the name...it's Tea Cake, yes it is.
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- Mel

a pleasure

This is the story of a woman struggling against the expectations of everyone in her life who is supposed to care for her; her grandmother, the man she wanted her to marry so she would have a "good life" but without love, and the man she ran off with to make a "better life" and what she thought was love, which turned out to be yet another disappointment. It is a bittersweet story, beautifully written with memorable, full-bodied, thought-provoking characters, and expertly read by Ruby Dee. I was pleasantly surprised from beginning to end. If you have a long, tedious project, pop this one in and you will be finished with both before you know it. Definitely recommend!
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- Leslie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-07-2005
  • Publisher: HarperAudio