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Interview: 'The Other Black Girl' Nails Down What It's Like to Navigate a White Industry

'I think it's really important for writers of all races to really lean into that experience.'
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  • The Other Black Girl
  • 'I think it's really important for writers of all races to really lean into that experience.'

Publisher's Summary

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

A Good Morning America, Esquire, and Read with Marie Claire Book Club Pick and a People Best Book of Summer

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Time, The Washington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Parade, Goodreads, Fortune, and BBC

Urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife, The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

©2021 Zakiya Dalila Harris. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"King does an excellent job portraying the conflicted protagonist and is at her strongest delivering dialogue. The other narrators also are very good. This slow-building audiobook is built on psychological tension. Part suspense, part publishing industry takedown, it's both entertaining and thought-provoking." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about The Other Black Girl

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Provocative

I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I decided to write a brief review. I believe my first one with Audible, and I’ve been a member for five years. I listened to the novel nearly straight through, only pausing for a few hours of sleep. I could not wait to find out what would happen next—a great thriller with many twists and turns. Counting the number of Black people in a room or place of business is absolutely real. However, the story goes beyond that and pits one worldview against another, in short, with other thought-provoking, socially relevant topics.

My only criticisms would be that the story starts a little slow, and that the varied points of view at the beginning were somewhat distracting. I found myself returning to certain portions to find out how certain characters fit into the overall story.

I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the narration of the main character, Nella (and several others), by Aja Naomi King – absolutely flawless. I was totally crushing on Nella’s boyfriend, Owen.

Great book; I will probably listen to it again in the near future.

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Bad Execution and Way Too Slow

Please know that I hate to give bad reviews to black authors and I really do wish Ms. Harris success in her career... BUT (heavy sigh)...
The narration lacked drama or feeling. One of them sounded a lot like Siri. The other sounded like she had a mouth full of marbles. There has to be some kind of acting ability when narrating (in my opinion) and these people did not have it!
The main character was flat and annoying. I didn't care at all about her life no matter how hard I tried. The other characters were about as supportive as a training bra. There was so much "mystery" behind some of them that you forgot that they existed at all and they were supposed to be "pieces of the puzzle" (which was only about 4 pieces that didn't fit each other).
Finally... the story. I don't want to spoil it for those who still want to brave the wild but I don't have words enough for how uneven (that's the kindest word I could think of) the plot was. I got NINE hours into this thing before she got to the point. I know it was supposed to be suspense but it was like waiting for a cake to be made and realizing that they forgot to put in the sugar.
I'm not going to say don't give it a listen but just know you'll not be able to get those hours back.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking.

Chilling to think what it would actually take to live a life "free" of the constant stress white society puts on every black person in the workforce. Harris nailed the subtle racism that chips away at our psyche as we try to fit in and at the same time not be accepting of the unacceptable. It's exhausting and so tempting to just throw our hands up and submit if it means advancement and higher wages.
Excellent writing and excellent narration!

27 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Slow

I had so much anticipation about reading this book because of all the rave reviews, but it is too slow and failed to gain my attention.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I’m honestly appalled at the irresponsible nature of this book. Black trauma shouldn’t be written in a way that is almost mockery. A million time’s worse for black women - it’s already a nightmare navigating economic challenges, corporate exhaustion, colorism, racism, etc. - but to boil it down to conscience numbing hair cream. Stupid. I wish I had a better and more eloquent description. And it literally came down to the last chapter to get to an very anticlimactic arch that then fell on its face. We can do better.

18 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Surprising, interesting, implausible.

This story begins in a straightforward way then evolves into a convoluted mystery verging on sci-fi. It raises interesting issues about being black and working in traditionally white environments. But it stretches the plot to the point of too far fetched for me.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Black history is Black horror

That's the quote that opens this novel. Prophetic. Stepford wives meets Get Out. Also, excellently performed.

14 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not worth a credit!

Very confused and threadbare storyline. None of the characters sparked any emotional response. Kept reading to find out what others liked so much but it didn’t happen. Just glad it’s over.....
Narrator’s voice just annoying ...

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Extremely Slow

I have to be honest, if I would've tried reading this, versus listening to the audible, it wouldn't have gotten finished. Didn't find it interesting at all.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great

Loved it and the narrator was a very good story teller and I felt like I was part of the story.

6 people found this helpful