It’s easy to turn any day in the life of a Black girl (person) into horror. What I mean is that in our daily interactions, we sometimes have experiences that are varying levels of ‘horror’. The ‘funny’ thing is; we are almost desensitized and dissociated from our feelings. After all, many generations have been ‘trained’ to ignore, say nothing, keep our heads down. Those experiences of micro-aggressions and/or outright racist attacks leave a mark on our soul. Key character in the novel The Other Black Girl, Nella Rogers askes herself, when was the last time she felt ‘really, truly, wholly free?’ I believe this is one of the big questions that the book’s author Zakiya Dalila Harris is putting to the readers, especially in the Black community. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris is the book you need to add to your reading list this summer.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.
Dark, funny and furiously entertaining, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
The Other Black Girl serves up horror, humour, fashion, food and more. If the film ‘Get Out’ was set in a publishing house, this is what would be it The Other Black Girl. The novel takes the reader on turns and plot twists! While reading It I kept thinking, I can’t believe Zakiya shared this! Sometimes I felt exposed. You know the feeling you get when some of your figurative dirty linen is on show for all the world to see? For example, the exploration of Black identity, being Black and in an interracial relationship.
Zakiya Dalila Harris brought authentic characters and a story that needed to be told to print. It’s a celebration of Black culture, beauty, hair, as well as, Black female friendships. However, she doesn’t’ shy away from exposing ‘frenemies’ and the challenging situations Black women encounter in the work place.
On The Writing Style Of The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl is written in confessional style. The reader has the benefit of getting into the heads of the main characters. It pulls back the curtain and exposes the wizard’s secrets. No one and nothing is safe, not even the scared ‘Black Girls’ Magic’.
Owen (Nella’s BF) is an interesting character. He represents the ‘woke’ generation of white people who have read the books, seen the films and had the challenging conversations. Although, he gets it there are somethings he will never understand because it’s not his lived experience. Zakiya uses him to shine a light on feelings that Nella (we) may not admit to ourselves. He confronts her about her feelings towards Hazel (the other black girl);
Bullshit. Come on. This new Black girl’s gotchu shook…
You sort of liked being the only Black girl at Wagner. Right?
The Other Black Girl gets intense and scary, thankfully, humour is cleverly injected. The humour brings balance. Malaika is Nella’s ‘ride or die’ friend. She’s Nella’s sounding board but she also tells Nella like is all while serving up the jokes. After a sleuth mission to find out Hazels true identity, Malaika says;
‘And speaking of hair- you should have seen homegirl’s face when I leaned forward and tried to touch one of her dreadlocks!’
If you don’t already know it, DON’T TOUCH Black girls’ hair.
Zakiya will leave you wanting more. ‘The New Black Girl’, Read it. Order direct from Bloomsbury Publishing, Amazon or major high street book shop.
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm
About The Author
Zakiya Dalila Harris spent three years at Knopf before leaving to write The Other Black Girl. Prior to working in publishing, she received her MFA in creative writing from the New School and she currently teaches writing to children at Writopia Lab. Her work has appeared in Guernica and she reviews for The Rumpus. She lives in New York.