January 7

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston (born January 7, 1891) - U.S. ethnologist, folklorist, playwright, novelist - Their Eyes Were Watching God

Read about Hurston here

Read about Barracoon, Hurston's ethnographic account of 19th century slave trade, republished in 2018

Read an excerpt from Hurston's play "Poker!" (1931)

Soon as I play the deck I'm comin' and take you alls money! Don' rush me.
Ace means the first time that I met you
Duece means there was nobody there but us two
Trey means the third party--Charlie was his name
Four spot means the fourth time you tried that same old game--
Five spot means five years you played me for a clown
Six spot means six feet of earth when the deal goes down
Now I'm holding the seven spot for each day of the week
Eight means eight hours that she Sheba-ed with your Sheik--
Nine spot means nine hours that I work hard every day--
Ten spot means tenth of every month I brought you home my pay--
The Jack is three-card Charlie who played me for a goat
The Queen, that's my pretty Mama, also trying to cut my throat--
The King stands for Sweet Papa Nunkie and he's goin' to wear the crown,
So be careful you all ain't broke when the deal goes down!

Nicholson Baker

Nicholson Baker (born January 7, 1957) - U.S. novelist - Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II (2008)

Read an excerpt from Baker's novel The Anthologist (2009) here.

“Carpe diem” doesn’t mean seize the day—it means something gentler and more sensible. “Carpe diem” means pluck the day. Carpe, pluck. Seize the day would be “cape diem,” if my school Latin serves. No R. Very different piece of advice. What Horace had in mind was that you should gently pull on the day’s stem..."

Read a 2011 Paris Review article about Nicholson Baker

"Many of Baker’s talents are self-consciously small: meticulously inventive phrasemaking, a masterfully intimate tone, and a superhuman gift for observation. He has a Dutch-painterly reverence for everyday rituals and objects—a belief that they will start to glow with significance if we only pay close enough attention. This has left Baker open to the charge that the work itself is trivial, quaint—a bubble of old-fashioned belletrism floating through a harsh ­modern world. (Leon Wieseltier, writing in The New York Times, once called Baker’s novels “creepy hermeneutical toys.”)"

Shobhaa Dé

Shobhaa Dé (born January 7, 1948) - Indian novelist

Watch an interview of Shobhaa De here