Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £7.99

Buy Now for £7.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

Abducted from Africa, sold in America. 

A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. This account illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade. 

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who was abducted from Africa on the last 'Black Cargo' ship to arrive in the United States. Of the millions of men, women and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage 50 years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past - memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War. 

Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the 20th-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture. 

©2018 Zora Neale Hurston (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"That Zora Neale Hurston should find and befriend Cudjo Lewis, the last living man with firsthand memory of capture in Africa and captivity in Alabama, is nothing shy of a miracle. Barracoon is a testament to the enormous losses millions of men, women and children endured in both slavery and freedom - a story of urgent relevance to every American, everywhere." (Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Life on Mars and Wade in the Water)

"Zora Neale Hurston’s genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece." (Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple)

"Barracoon is a powerful, breathtakingly beautiful, and at times, heart wrenching, account of one man’s story, eloquently told in his own language. Zora Neale Hurston gives Kossola control of his narrative- a gift of freedom and humanity. It completely reinforces for me the fact that Zora Neale Hurston was both a cultural anthropologist and a truly gifted, and compassionate storyteller, who sat in the sometimes painful silence with Kossola and the depth and breadth of memory as a slave. Such is a narrative filled with emotions and histories bursting at the intricately woven seams." (Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun)

What listeners say about Barracoon

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    36
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Important work by Hurston, read powerfully!

This was a highly anticipated read for me this year but thought I'd try the audible version while waiting to get the book. I've been a fan of Hurston for years and the reading of this work does justice to the research, care and dedication of and by Zora Neale Hurston. It was read so convincingly that there were moments I felt weepful and my heart broke. Not an easy story to listen to but one of great great importance. So grateful for Zora Neale Hurston's tenacity and the legacy she left behind - though celebrated posthumously.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

What a tragic life story. I was utterly captivated and was brought to tears by Kazooka's life. To think he was alive when my grandparents were young. It just goes to show how slavery was not so far back in history as it seems sometimes

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not for Me

I really didn't enjoy the story very much and the narration even less. I gave it three starts only because the content was getting on for being interesting. The way it was put together and particularly the narration spoilt any interest that I might of had.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So honest

A true story. One thats almost unbelievable. I absolutely recommend it. It might move you to tears so be careful.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • MK
  • 04-02-20

Fascinating and evocative story of loss

Almost didn't go on because of the controversy about plagiarism related to the article Hurston wrote which was a precursor to Barracoon. But glad I persisted. The story of Kassula in his own words and vernacular was very compelling. The narrator was fantastic it was as if she transformed into Cudjoe!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A tiny gem

One of my favourite audiobooks ever. The reading by Deborah Plant is a joy. I can’t comment on how authentic her reading of Cudjo’s speaking style is. But it works. A good example of a book which deserves to be listened to rather than read because of the oral storytelling tradition that informs it. Although very short it includes a very interesting analysis of the genesis and authenticity of the book, then Cudjo’s story (some of this is heartbreakingly sad), then some folk tales from Africa that he related to Hurston.