Nella Rogers, a 20 something, black, ambitious assistant hoping to be an editor one day, works at an all white publishing company in New York City. Not sure if racism or her aggressive promotion of diversity in the workplace is holding her back from a promotion, she shares thoughts with her close friend Malaika and her white boyfriend, Owen. When asked by her boss to read a novel written by an existing white author client and provide feedback, Nella has strong, negative feelings about the stereotypical black character in the book. She does not feel it is accurate representation, yet her boss and co-workers do not truly understand or agree. When she learns another black woman has joined the editorial team, Nella is thrilled she will have a friend, camaraderie, someone with the same beliefs and intentions at work…but will she?
Hazel-May, a more vibrant, privileged, organized and put together version of Nella makes a splash as the new woman in the office…hence The Other Black Girl; she initially seems to be a friend, but has a different approach to achieving success and earning respect in a white dominated environment. The two are not seeing eye to eye as Nella has hoped and when a threatening note appears on Nella’s desk, she can’t help but wonder if Hazel left it for her. This thought-provoking debut novel goes from social commentary about black women in the workplace facing discrimination and experiencing micro-aggressions to full blown thriller…with a few twists including some brainwashing and a lot of talk about hair care!
The Other Black Girl is an engrossing, humor-filled satirical story that had me stop to wonder what it must be like to be the only one to carry the pressure and responsibility of representing in an environment dominated by the other. Harris also shows that just because two women are black, that doesn’t mean they have anything in common or are similar in any way. With a timely story that includes psychological suspense and smart writing, Zakiya Dalila Harris will be an author to watch – I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!
About the Author:
I’m a Brooklyn-based author with a passion for writing (and talking) about Blackness, books, and oldies music. I received my MFA in nonfiction creative writing from the New School and my BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before becoming a Tar Heel, I was born and raised in Connecticut, where I cultivated a healthy appetite for cinnamon and fall foliage. I currently live in Brooklyn.
My debut novel, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL, is forthcoming from Atria Books in the U.S. in June 2021, Bloomsbury in the U.K., and elsewhere around the world. A TV adaptation is currently in active development with Tara Duncan, Temple Hill Entertainment, and Hulu.
For another book about race in the workplace, check out:
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour