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Bookreporter Talks To

Jun 16, 2021

Zakiya Dalila Harris joins Carol Fitzgerald to discuss her debut novel, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL. Zakiya spent a few years working in the editorial department at Knopf/Doubleday. She left to write THE OTHER BLACK GIRL when the kernel of a story idea came to her, and it was too good to ignore.

In THE OTHER BLACK GIRL, editorial assistant Nella Rogers, who's been the only Black editorial employee at Wagner Books, meets Hazel, another Black woman who's just begun working beside her. What Nella hopes is an opportunity to find some common ground turns into a series of uncomfortable situations as Hazel’s stature rises in the office and Nella’s confidence is challenged. That's when notes start arriving on Nella's desk, saying, "Leave Wagner. Now." From there, Nella's life spirals as she tries to find out who is behind the notes and how she can defend both her career and her life.

In their conversation, Zakiya shares her background in publishing and how her experiences inspired everything from the microaggressions present in Nella's story, to the loose basis of certain characters, to the premise of the idea itself. Carol and Zakiya talk about pop culture references, career transitions (especially for those who are assistants), and some of the challenges involved in getting this book to meet Zakiya's vision.

Book Discussed in this Episode:

THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Links Discussed in the Video:

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Photography Credit: Greg Fitzgerald