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Extended Audio Sample Mules and Men, by Zora Neale Hurston Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,104 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Zora Neale Hurston Narrator: Ruby Dee Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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"Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read." --Roger D. Abrahams

Mules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered hearing as a child. In her quest, she found herself and her history throughout these highly metaphorical folk-tales, "big old lies," and the lyrical language of song. With this collection, Zora Neale Hurston has come to reveal'and preserve'a beautiful and important part of American culture.

Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and playwright whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She is also the author of Tell My Horse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Mule Bone.

Ruby Dee, a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, starred on Broadway in the original productions of A Raisin in the Sun and Purlie Victorious, and was featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. She is also an award-winning author and the producer of numerous television dramas.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “One could almost accuse Ruby Dee of being a witch doctor. Her narration of this seminal collection of black American folklore is nothing short of extraordinary…She tells stories, she interrupts, she cuts up, she teases, she banters—she inhabits, not mere characters, but groups of characters—friends and neighbors gathered on the porch, in the dance hall, in a card game, hanging around the country store…As later African-American literature became increasingly militant, Hurston was accused of turning black experience into a minstrel show. But her accomplishment, unappreciated for fifty years, was in revealing so intimately and eloquently how these people made it through their days—and nights.”


  • “Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read.”

    Roger D. Abrahams, Hum Rosen Professor of Humanities Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania; American Folklore Society Fellow

  • “A classic in style and form…Introduces the reader to the whole world of jook joints, lying contests, and tall-tale sessions that make up the drama of the folk life of black people in the rural South.”

    Mary Helen Washington, professor, University of Maryland

  • “Authentic in feeling, plenty of race humor, [an] excellent cross section.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jacqueline | 2/17/2014

    " Often termed as anthropology but reads like a story. Hurston blurs the boundaries of the genre to produce this wonderful book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Waheedah Bilal | 2/13/2014

    " Ms. Hurston was a gifted storyteller, but she was also a trained anthropologist. Both skills are captured in this text, which is one of the finest collections of Black American folktales assembled. Her use of dialect is the most authentic anyone before her or since has done; it is simply spot on -- not demeaning or insulting, just dialect. I read these stories to my children when they were young, then consulted them when I was a grad student. Another classic; she was a genius. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Paul Haspel | 1/31/2014

    " Folklore is all around us, it seems. At a time when anthropologists were seeking out the most isolated populations possible, in order to find what about them was "quaint" or different, Zora Neale Hurston had the presence of mind to perceive that a brilliant and resonant folk culture was to be found in her own hometown of Eatonville, Florida. Therefore she left her university studies in the North and returned to her Southern hometown to gather examples of African-American folk culture. The first part of Mules and Men shows Hurston arriving in Eatonville, establishing rapport with her fellow citizens of the town (making sure to let the townspeople know that her university education has not caused her to take on fancy airs), and gathering stories and songs from all over Central Florida, though she exposes herself to some danger in the process. In the second part, she travels to New Orleans and goes to great lengths to learn about vodun ("voodoo"). One can see in this book foreshadowings of the novelistic work that Hurston would do in her masterpiece, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Some readers might want to see more synthesis and interpretation of the folklore, especially in the first section. But Hurston seems to have been content to gather and present the material, and to let this African-American folklore of the American South speak for itself. A helpful appendix contains songs (with their musical arrangements), along with vodun formulae, paraphernalia, and prescriptions. This edition also includes a helpful afterword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., along with the moving and evocative essay "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" by Alice Walker. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mike McQuillian | 1/4/2014

    " Recommended for: those interested in folklore, black culture, history, oral storytelling, voodoo. "

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