Book: The Other Black Girl

Author: Zakiya Dalila Harris

Review by: Oliver Gorf, executive director of the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta

Oliver Gorf

Literature can either make you recognize yourself in others, or it can help you recognize others. Especially this year, female writers helped me to look beyond my own experiences: Patricia Engel, Jesmyn Ward, Ash Davidson and Rachel Cusk were some of them.

But “The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris took the experience into a whoel different world from mine.The novel tells the story of a 26-year-old Black girl who becomes drawn into a story of suppression that goes back decades. Not only is the story surprising in its premise and its twists and turns, but it also is as remote as possible from my own background in terms of age, location (New York City), gender and skin color.

I learned a lot of new facts and actually had to ask some friends what certain phrases or details actually meant. In other words, the novel managed to expose me to a world I didn’t know well and helped me understand what I do not know so that I try harder to gain such perspectives in the future. During another year of in a society marked with extreme polarization and the constant stress of change, this was exactly what I needed from literature.

Read previous reviews from Oliver Gorf: 

Books 2020: The Individualistic Human Condition

Editor’s notes: Global Atlanta will receive a 10 percent commission on any purchase of this book through the links on this page. also contributes 10 percent of the purchase price of each book to independent booksellers around the United States.

Each year, Global Atlanta asks influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued annually since 2010. 

See last year’s full list of books on BookShop here, and all 2020 reader picks here. 

All books were chosen and reviews written independently, with only mild editing from our staff.