Jonah’s Gourd Vine is a testament to the commitment of needing to write and a slap in the face to every author who still can’t finish a novel despite writing on a computer while seated at a large desk. This narrative was Zora Neale Hurston’s first stab at writing a novel; she started and finished the job while seated at a folding card table in a cramped one-room house, with the constant worry of just having enough money to buy food hanging perpetually over the creative process.
The particular obstacle might have been soothed, had her publisher Lippincott manifested such rigid adherence to its decision that Hurston would not see a dime of the $200 advance until a fully completed manuscript was in its offices. And so, when Hurston went to the local post office to mail that manuscript, it was with money for postage that she had to borrow from a friend.
The semi-autobiographical account of her minister father’s fall from grace and the move from Alabama to the Florida town where she grew up didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but it did well enough to situate her career at the position in which she could complete her second novel. That novel would set the world on fire, and bring generations of new readers to Jonah’s Gourd Vine as part of their discovery process after reading that subsequent book: Their Eyes were Watching God.