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The Other Black Girl

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Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this 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 Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this 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.


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Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this 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 Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this 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.

30 review for The Other Black Girl

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    If, when scanning the description for this book, your eye was caught by The Devil Wears Prada comparison, I strongly suggest you move your eyes over a couple of words and take a good long look at the Get Out comparison. I can understand the temptation to compare The Other Black Girl to The Devil Wears Prada, as both are set in a cutthroat work environment and are primarily about women, but I think it could draw the wrong readers to this book. It is not a light feel-good comedy-drama in any sense If, when scanning the description for this book, your eye was caught by The Devil Wears Prada comparison, I strongly suggest you move your eyes over a couple of words and take a good long look at the Get Out comparison. I can understand the temptation to compare The Other Black Girl to The Devil Wears Prada, as both are set in a cutthroat work environment and are primarily about women, but I think it could draw the wrong readers to this book. It is not a light feel-good comedy-drama in any sense. It is a genre-defying mindfuck. I mean this in a good way. The comparisons to Get Out feel truer to me, and there's no doubt this book takes a sinister turn, especially in the final 20% or so. I experienced a particularly brilliant HOLY SHIT moment when the book revealed itself to me. It's not the easiest book to recommend or, I imagine, to market. It sits just outside the confines of several different genres, containing elements of contemporary drama, mystery/thriller, and horror. I ended up deciding I liked the book and really enjoyed the clever twists and turns the author took, but I think you could easily be forgiven for discovering this book is not for you. It requires you to enjoy both slower-paced office dramas and horror. If a slower burn narrative is not your thing, I would skip this one. It spends a lot of time building on the office politics and microaggressions at the fictional publishing company, Wagner Books. There is a feeling of wrongness creeping into this setting early in the novel, but we spend a long time completely in the dark about what is going on. I enjoyed it, though. It's not often that books take me so completely by surprise and do something as unique and creative as this one does. It requires some patience, but I think the payoff is worth it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    WHERE WAS THE EDITOR? I took my time to write this review because I did not want to write this review while I was mad. For one, whenever I write a review when I am mad, I end up regretting it and it is generally laced with grammatical errors. Friends, this book is 352 pages long and majority of the plot happened in the last 32 pages. If I could physically fight a book I would. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking, “WHERE IS THE EDITIOR?!!!!” because I did not understand how WHERE WAS THE EDITOR? I took my time to write this review because I did not want to write this review while I was mad. For one, whenever I write a review when I am mad, I end up regretting it and it is generally laced with grammatical errors. Friends, this book is 352 pages long and majority of the plot happened in the last 32 pages. If I could physically fight a book I would. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking, “WHERE IS THE EDITIOR?!!!!” because I did not understand how an editor would let a book that is padded for 300 pages get published. Do not get me wrong, I get that you have to “Set up a scene” “build the plot” “develop the character” but for nothing to really happen until the last 32 pages of the book blows my mind. We know this was a dubbed as a 2021 most anticipated release so you can imagine how excited I was when I received the ARC. Imagine reading 180 pages and nothing happened. Imagine the disappointment at it just all falling flat. Maybe I should blame the marketing, “Get Out meets Devil Wears Prada” there wasn’t much of that… just a bit. This book was sooo bad. Honestly. If you are looking for a better read about Black Women and their hair, definitely read Emma Dabairi’s DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR . I really wanted to love this one. I wanted to use my platform to shout about this book but this is not it. Oh, it might work for anyone who is looking to find out how white publishing is…

  3. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris  The story starts thirty years earlier as a black woman boards an almost empty train. She's running from somebody or something and she is literally trying not to tear her scalp into a bloody mess. Who is she and what is she running from? Present day greets us with 26 year old Nella Rogers, the only black employee at Wagner Books. Finally the day comes when another editorial assistant is hired and she's black! Nella is no longer alone and she is ecstatic The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris  The story starts thirty years earlier as a black woman boards an almost empty train. She's running from somebody or something and she is literally trying not to tear her scalp into a bloody mess. Who is she and what is she running from? Present day greets us with 26 year old Nella Rogers, the only black employee at Wagner Books. Finally the day comes when another editorial assistant is hired and she's black! Nella is no longer alone and she is ecstatic. But her happiness is short-lived when Hazel, rather than being alienated by her mostly white co-workers, instead befriends and charms them all. Not only that, Hazel soon starts undermining Nella so completely that Nella knows her job is on the line. Nella's inner and outer turmoil increases when she starts getting notes that threaten her, telling her to "LEAVE WAGNER. NOW"! The story is mostly told from Nella's point of view but we also get a few other points of view that seem to distract from the story rather than add to it. Something very strange is going on and at one point I kiddingly wondered if it was caused by something I won't mention and I laughed at that silly idea. But the joke was on me. The big twist has a Twilight Zone feel to it and left me with so many questions about so many things. Publication: June 1st 2021 Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for this ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    i hate this book, i hate that everything is compared to get out, i hate nella, i hate that they bring up black twitter so much and i hate the plot twist. will give a better review later recently i’ve been kinda annoyed that every black thriller has been compared to get out but i get it, that’s not gonna stop me from reading it. i love that black thrillers focus on racism because as a black person, everything has to do with race. this issue is that this was the worst of them all. i hated Nelly as i hate this book, i hate that everything is compared to get out, i hate nella, i hate that they bring up black twitter so much and i hate the plot twist. will give a better review later recently i’ve been kinda annoyed that every black thriller has been compared to get out but i get it, that’s not gonna stop me from reading it. i love that black thrillers focus on racism because as a black person, everything has to do with race. this issue is that this was the worst of them all. i hated Nelly as a narrator which made me hate the book so much. Nelly doesn’t feel black enough and you can tell she struggles with it. even from the small line where she doesn’t want to admit she lived a privileged life even tho she did! at times it was just weird because she wanted to please white people but couldn’t fully admit it and having one black friend doesn’t mean anything. i’m sorry but Nelly felt like a coon at times. Hazel honestly wasn’t that bad but i think that’s because the author could’ve made her a bit worse than what she was, you could tell Nelly was jealous of her and that’s why she acted the way that she did. The ending to this book was weird, don’t get me wrong i love ambiguous endings but this one made the book feel so incomplete because i was left with too many questions. I wish the topic touched on OBGs a bit better and i kind of hate the ending? i also want to state that this wasn’t very thrillerish at all, i wasn’t on the edge of my seat, i wasn’t spooked or anything like that. The random pov’s were not needed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is not a story I saw coming, partly because I was misled by the blurb for Zakiya Dalila Harris's novel comparing it to The Devil Wears Prada and a workplace comedy drama this is not. It is a chilling and deeply unsettling examination of the black experience in the predominantly white publishing industry, set in New York at the fictional Wagner Books. For 26 year old Nella Rogers, a lonely and isolated black editorial assistant, negotiating the micro-aggressions of her daily working life has This is not a story I saw coming, partly because I was misled by the blurb for Zakiya Dalila Harris's novel comparing it to The Devil Wears Prada and a workplace comedy drama this is not. It is a chilling and deeply unsettling examination of the black experience in the predominantly white publishing industry, set in New York at the fictional Wagner Books. For 26 year old Nella Rogers, a lonely and isolated black editorial assistant, negotiating the micro-aggressions of her daily working life has been a far from a comfortable experience. So when another black woman, Hazel, is employed and working beside her, she is delighted and looking forward at long last to having a friend and ally. The two women bond over discussions on haircare, but as Hazel's stock rises in the office, Nella begins to get hostile notes. The underlying sense of menace grows, as strange events, manipulation, and intrigue conspire to erode Nella's reputation and there is a historical thread of a black editor from the past that begins to connect with the present. There are twists and turns, all leading to a shockingly surprising conclusion. I am not going to lie, it took me a long time to feel as if could understand what the book was about, at times it felt like a excruciatingly slow burn of a office drama before the suspense kicked in, although the portrayal of the white working environment was detailed and insightful. This is a challenging, discomfiting and imaginative novel with a strong social commentary with its core themes of racism, tokenism and the nature of diversity in the publishing industry. Furthermore, it is depressing how far some in the black community will go to fit in and succeed in the workplace rather than being supportive in their relationships with each other. This is a intensely dark, satirical, and thought provoking read, but it is far from perfect, and whilst I eventually found myself engaged by the original and compulsive storytelling, I don't think its a book that will appeal to everyone, it requires patience and some might find the narrative ventures far too much into what might be seen as insane territory. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.

  6. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **4.5-stars rounded up** The Other Black Girl is a super-smart debut; one that would make a great freaking movie. I really enjoyed my time reading this. It's hard to categorize what exactly this book is. While it felt like subtle Horror to me, I'll settle for describing it as Speculative Fiction with an extra special Thriller twist. Nella Rogers is an editorial assistant at Wagner Books and the only black employee in that position. Wagner was her goal publishing house from the start. She worked da **4.5-stars rounded up** The Other Black Girl is a super-smart debut; one that would make a great freaking movie. I really enjoyed my time reading this. It's hard to categorize what exactly this book is. While it felt like subtle Horror to me, I'll settle for describing it as Speculative Fiction with an extra special Thriller twist. Nella Rogers is an editorial assistant at Wagner Books and the only black employee in that position. Wagner was her goal publishing house from the start. She worked damn hard to get where she is and continues to do so every day. No matter how hard she works, however, Nella is still subject to daily microaggressions in the workspace. Regardless, she knows she needs to go along to get along, as they say. When Harlem-born, Hazel, is introduced to her as a new colleague, Nella is shocked. Another black girl? This could be fun. She's never had this before. Maybe she'll finally have someone willing to back her up when she tries to change the status quo a bit. While Hazel seems nice at first, there's something about her that Nella doesn't trust. Almost as soon as Hazel begins at Wagner, she's suddenly the office darling, while Nella gets pushed further to the sidelines. Why doesn't Hazel have to put in the same amount of time at the bottom that Nella did? Nella is confident that she is damn good at what she does. She knows it isn't that. So, what is it? Why is everyone so smitten with Hazel? Then Nella begins to receive threatening messages telling her she needs to leave Wagner entirely. Is Hazel behind the threats, or someone else? Nella begins to investigate Hazel and makes some shocking discoveries that put her entire future in danger. If that doesn't have you intrigued, I don't know what will! I loved how Harris framed this story. What starts out feeling like a very tame, contemporary analysis of the U.S. publishing industry quickly evolves into something so much more than that. As the Reader, you go through it with Nella. I felt everything she was feeling: confused, frustrated, scared, desperate and a whole host of other emotions. Is she being paranoid, is she correct? It is a ride! It's sinister, ominous, riddled with a sense of dread and I must say, unpredictable. I couldn't have predicted this ending in a million years. I would recommend this to everyone, but particularly if you enjoyed Alyssa Cole's, When No One is Watching, you should for sure pick this up. It had that same dark tone, laced with biting, relevant social commentary throughout. A stellar debut. Zakiya Dalila Harris is definitely an author to watch!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Micro aggressions in the office environment and rising discrimination, marginalization of coworkers at the publishing industry! Wow! What a realistic, whirlwind, impeccably analyzed concept and excellent choice for a debut author! When I see the blurb tells me this book’s story between Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out, I screamed I’m all in! Even though the story I read is nothing as it’s advertised but I still enjoyed the mysterious narration, the jaw dropping surrealist turn of the story’s dire Micro aggressions in the office environment and rising discrimination, marginalization of coworkers at the publishing industry! Wow! What a realistic, whirlwind, impeccably analyzed concept and excellent choice for a debut author! When I see the blurb tells me this book’s story between Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out, I screamed I’m all in! Even though the story I read is nothing as it’s advertised but I still enjoyed the mysterious narration, the jaw dropping surrealist turn of the story’s direction whether it’s a little complex, confusing, opaque and slowed down the pace, it was still original and reflection of extraordinarily unique mind of the author. Two black women cannot climb the career ladders at the same work environment when there’s ruthless competition and the pressure of white privileged executives who watch their each steps and wait for them to fail. Nella, young, aspiring, hard worker, black girl wants to succeed at Wagner Books. Unfortunately she was the only colored person who works as editorial assistant. When Hazel is offered a job, assigned to work at the desk next to her, she gets excited. She isn’t going to suffer from loneliness at the work space. This could mean she gets an ally but sooner she realizes she cannot be so wrong because the competitions acts of Hazel who gets the attention of her executes, leaves Nella in the dust. As Hazel becomes rising star, Nella also starts to deal with threat messages which advise her to quit her job unless she wants bad things happen! Then the book gets an unexpected turn make your jaw drop so fast! But I was okay with that! I love to deal with unexpected and surprising progress. I wish I could say the same about the ending. Because it was way too much open for my taste. There are so many unresolved issues, unanswered questions! I think I needed more drama, scream, earth shattering revelations , tying up of loose ends. But it was solid, a little blunt ending for my taste! I still loved the plot idea ( it was a little fantasy and sci-fi vibes version of Devil wears Prada with surrealist touches), inequality and unfairness at work space and micro aggressions theme. The characterization was also good even though some characters still needed more detailed back stories. The ending was dissatisfying. But overall I’m rounding up 3.5 stars to 4 different, creative, mind bending, shocking, creepy, dark, well researched stars! Special thanks to Mimi Chan and Goodreads team to share the NetGalley widget of this unique reviewer copy and I also thank to Atria Books for this amazing experience. instagram facebook twitter

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    This novel was nothing like what I was expecting. I was hoping for an intelligent story about the lack of diversity in the publishing industry. I admit I know nothing about this subject and that’s why I was very interested in the novel. First the blurb for the book, in case you haven’t read it : “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 Haz This novel was nothing like what I was expecting. I was hoping for an intelligent story about the lack of diversity in the publishing industry. I admit I know nothing about this subject and that’s why I was very interested in the novel. First the blurb for the book, in case you haven’t read it : “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.” For the first third of the book I was incredibly bored, NOTHING really happens that is exciting or surprising, until 70% into the book. I kept waiting and waiting for something great to be revealed. There is the mystery of the few notes that are left in places that Nella will find them, but no real action by her leaves the reader wondering why this character did not share this information, even with her boyfriend??? Why didn’t she do something about it??? Then we are invited into a party at a black hair salon owned by Hazel’s friend. What transpires here I thought was possibly the black women coming together to talk about what their work and lives were like, especially the two in the publishing house of Wagner books. But instead we are later told that something more sinister was happening here??? When the reveal took place, it was something I can’t even identify exactly. It was part conspiracy theory and part “what the heck is going on”, and “this is just crazy” . I see that there are already 4 and 5* reviews out for this book which isn’t due for publication until June 1, 2021. Perhaps there is another audience for this book, so if you want to read it, I'd say go in blind because the description is not accurate. I’m giving it 3* for what could have been a great premise but it wasn’t developed in an interesting or engaging manner. I know that this is a debut novel but it’s listed as fiction/suspense/thriller and I will only say that it fit in the fiction genre but this was in no way a thriller nor did I feel it was suspenseful. Those of you who follow my reviews know that I am always honest in my reviews and I cannot recommend this book. I’m really sorry that this didn’t work for me as I had real interest in knowing more about what goes on in that world of books from which we only know the finished product, the BOOKS themselves!! I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Bumping this one up to 3.5 stars instead of 3, purely for the risks taken with this book. I came verrrrry close to giving this book a lower rating than that, so yeah, I am being generous. The Other Black Girl is very ridiculous, absurd and low-key problematic, but I’d be lying if I said the epilogue wasn’t pretty brilliant. Very Jordan Peele, indeed. In retrospect, this book was not written to be taken seriously (it is a Black satire, a genre I can now confidently say I despise) — something I wasn Bumping this one up to 3.5 stars instead of 3, purely for the risks taken with this book. I came verrrrry close to giving this book a lower rating than that, so yeah, I am being generous. The Other Black Girl is very ridiculous, absurd and low-key problematic, but I’d be lying if I said the epilogue wasn’t pretty brilliant. Very Jordan Peele, indeed. In retrospect, this book was not written to be taken seriously (it is a Black satire, a genre I can now confidently say I despise) — something I wasn’t quite expecting from the opening chapters — and so for that, I think it was well executed. However. This book suffers on so many other fronts. Firstly, it is insufferably overwritten; I often asked myself more than once, “Where is the editor?” This book is overloaded with Black Twitter verbiage (if you know you know) to the point where it becomes performative and obnoxious. The “so what?” of this book (surrendering to white supremacy, joke or not) is hella problematic. And most noticeably, it is too damn long. I skipped whole paragraphs just to speed up the already-slouchy narrative. Ehhh, I don’t want to “that person” but to hell with it. I don’t have the bandwidth to go into the absurdity of the plot — it doesn’t get more bizarre than mind-numbing hair grease (🤨) — but I saw what the author attempted here, however, this book needs an overhaul. Now. From start to finish. As improbable as it all was, this was a risky story to tell — one that touches on even more important issues as it pertains to tokenism and Blackness in the workplace and the ways minorities conspire (but with white supremacy?!) for either good and evil: To overthrow the system, or align with the system for social elevation at the expense of oppressing your fellow BIPOC. Either way, it’s bad. So yeah, I did not like the message of this book. At all. Despite my hope for a different outcome, this was a bold and ambitious debut nevertheless. I may have more to say, but I’m leaving it there for now.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    I think it's important to know going into this book that it's not what I would classify as a thriller, although the final 20% of the book is certainly saturated with considerable doses of conflict and a bit of horror, which I thought was brilliant. The Other Black Girl is really more of a dark, slow burning literary fiction that brings us a timely, necessary tale of caution, while speaking on themes of white privilege and racial bias. I was so grateful to buddy read this with Dennis, because it I think it's important to know going into this book that it's not what I would classify as a thriller, although the final 20% of the book is certainly saturated with considerable doses of conflict and a bit of horror, which I thought was brilliant. The Other Black Girl is really more of a dark, slow burning literary fiction that brings us a timely, necessary tale of caution, while speaking on themes of white privilege and racial bias. I was so grateful to buddy read this with Dennis, because it allowed us ample time to contemplate the ways that these subjects influence all aspects of life, especially in America, and also applaud the growing number of authors writing this type of story in an age where we need it the most. I won't spoil the twist, but I thought it was incredibly creative, while also feeling alarmingly plausible. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book when it releases this summer! *I received an advanced review copy of this title via the publisher.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

    This was the book troop pick for the month of June! Had a really great conversation with my friend Jesse about this book, 💞 you can see it here: https://youtu.be/N3Z-ehlOa4I This was the book troop pick for the month of June! Had a really great conversation with my friend Jesse about this book, 💞 you can see it here: https://youtu.be/N3Z-ehlOa4I

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allison Faught

    2.75 ⭐️ It really had immense potential and I loved the idea of reading a book about how there isn’t enough diversity in the workplace with a badass female protagonist to raise hell. However, that’s not quite the route the story decided to take. Seeing as this was promised to be ‘thrilling’ and ‘a page-turner’, I honestly felt the opposite. ‘Funny’ though, there were a couple times I let out a sincere chuckle. This book just about bored me to tears. I couldn’t wait to finish so I could start anoth 2.75 ⭐️ It really had immense potential and I loved the idea of reading a book about how there isn’t enough diversity in the workplace with a badass female protagonist to raise hell. However, that’s not quite the route the story decided to take. Seeing as this was promised to be ‘thrilling’ and ‘a page-turner’, I honestly felt the opposite. ‘Funny’ though, there were a couple times I let out a sincere chuckle. This book just about bored me to tears. I couldn’t wait to finish so I could start another book more suspenseful. I don’t think anything even ‘happened’ until about 75% of the way through the book and even with two chapters left I kept thinking, come on people, let’s pick up the pace. There were characters such as Diana and Kendra who I’m still questioning how much they really had to do with the plot. Either I completely missed the point or they were added for extra depth. Either way, I felt their flashbacks were a distraction from the main stories. There were also so many characters that I had a difficult time keeping them all straight and if I didn’t know who someone was, didn’t bother going back and finding out since I was so bored and ready for the book to be over by that point. Lastly, I felt like the potential it had could have been drawn out throughout the book instead of in the last chapter and epilogue. It seemed like such a long book for what little actually happened and left more questions than answers by the very end. Crossing my fingers for at least a 4 ⭐️ for my next book! 🤞

  13. 4 out of 5

    karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!! ugh, this is what i get for not reviewing my books right away. this was the veryfirst book i read in 2021 and now it's may—mere WEEKS before pub date, and my memory of it is fuzzier than this book deserves. it's being pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out. my interests lie firmly on the Get Out side of that spectrum, and—to me—this book took its sweet time getting to that part, and by the time it shifted from being an office drama centered on frustrated ambitions, forced NOW AVAILABLE!!! ugh, this is what i get for not reviewing my books right away. this was the veryfirst book i read in 2021 and now it's may—mere WEEKS before pub date, and my memory of it is fuzzier than this book deserves. it's being pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out. my interests lie firmly on the Get Out side of that spectrum, and—to me—this book took its sweet time getting to that part, and by the time it shifted from being an office drama centered on frustrated ambitions, forced-grin "hey, girl" rivalries, awkward meetings, and details of personal grooming and attire, i'd already figured out how the Get Out of it was going to manifest. that all makes it sound like i didn't like it, which is not the case. i've never read The Devil Wears Prada, or any office-based novels i can think of right now for comparison, but i thought this one did an excellent job of structuring a contemporary workplace novel around the 'ordinary horrors' of office politics and racial inequality in the publishing world. nella rogers is a twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant at wagner books, and the only back girl in the office. two years ago, when she was hired—because her perspective was "raw and bold and unique"—she was so bright-eyed with expectation about landing her first office job; eager to promote diversity and help make broad changes in the publishing world; to help pave the way for more black voices. wagner seemed like it would be a good fit, because ONE TIME, they published a book by a black author that nella deeply admired, but after her enthusiastic attempts to campaign for diversity went nowhere, she just started putting her head down, working hard, and hoping her efforts would be noticed and rewarded. now, two promotionless years on, she is still trying to navigate her way through the office dynamics, becoming increasingly disenchanted by the great white rut of every publishing season. like most publishing houses, wagner is very static, and nella's inexperience in 'how offices are' makes her question whether her failure to rise through the ranks is a personal thing, or a racial thing, causing her some paranoid agita about whether she's gaslighting herself and making it out to be more than it is, or if it's all just business as usual. she appeals to her bestie malaika for advice about whether it's discrimination or just... her, and if she should be taking this being-overlooked thing personally: "...lemme ask you this. Do you see any other white assistants getting promoted that have been there for less time than you?" "No," Nella had admitted, "I guess pretty much every editor has been stingy about upward mobility—even for the white assistants." "Well, there you go." "So...we don't think it's a race thing?" "Hell, yeah. That's a factor, too. She's protecting what's hers for as long as she can...you know, the way some white people insist on reproducing with white people simply so they can preclude the population of mixed-race babies that's indubitably gonna rule the country by 2045. malaika dismisses nella's concerns with humor, but her paranoia only heightens when hazel is hired. at first, nella is delighted to see another black girl entering the fold, but this is soon followed by no small measure of suspicion and jealousy. hazel is a shiny new girl, flashier and more outgoing than nella, more accomplished, and more accustomed to playing the social game of office work. before too long, hazel is fraternizing with the bigwigs, getting more perks and seeing her own pet projects realized. and then threatening notes start appearing on nella's desk, telling her to leave wagner. (i.e. to GET OUT!) the plot thickens, the workplace becomes more competitive and low-key sinister, but there's always that lingering doubt about whether hazel is just a confident and charming person better at acclimating and getting what she wants or if nella is deliberately being pushed aside by the other black girl. it's smart and observant and dark-funny, and the character work is excellent, but it isn't the horror novel i was anticipating by the Get Out namedrop. the reveal is pretty shrug-predictable which would only be a negative thing if everything leading up to it wasn't so strong. it's never scary, but it's got a real nice slow-burning tension to it that makes you want to get to the bottom of the whole hazel: secret agenda or not? situation. SIDE NOTE: some of the best (& unbearably awkward) parts of the book center around nella's interactions with a whiteboy author who has written a novel featuring an offensively stereotypical black character named shartricia, whose name particularly makes nella cringe. having this in the back of my mind made me chuckle out loud when i subsequently read My Darkest Prayer, whose (black) author references "a woman by the unfortunate name of La'Unique." see, nella, it could have been worse!! come to my blog!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I mean, the plot was interesting enough - a twenty-something, black, editorial assistant trying to climb the ladder meets the second black girl in her company and finds that there’s more to her new co-worker than what appears. Nice, office setting thriller, but I found issues with the execution of the story. For starters, there were too many laughable moments for me to take this story seriously as a thriller. The protagonist’s awkwardness made I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I mean, the plot was interesting enough - a twenty-something, black, editorial assistant trying to climb the ladder meets the second black girl in her company and finds that there’s more to her new co-worker than what appears. Nice, office setting thriller, but I found issues with the execution of the story. For starters, there were too many laughable moments for me to take this story seriously as a thriller. The protagonist’s awkwardness made her relatable but also a bit pitiful as we see how she continuously gets in her own way, giving the other black woman more room to crush her efforts. I felt for Nella, but I really wanted her to have more of a backbone when she needed it the most, not just when it was time to stand out at work. Secondly, I really hated the “secret weapon” used against Nella. I don’t want to spoil it but… Nah. I realize the book was written with black women in mind, but that was just too on the nose when the same response could’ve occurred with a less stereotypical tool. I also felt there were too many POVs included. I had a hard time tying the stories together, even within the last chapter. Also, the time jumps were odd. Moving from the 80s to present day were clear, but the multiple characters inadvertently contributing to the story at nearly the same time just complicated it more than necessary. I feel that when a story is this compelling, less is more when considering POVs. And the ending felt empty to me. It was like waiting in line for hours for a limited edition gadget only to get to the front and be told that they’re completely out but the store down the road is fully stocked. It felt pointless and unsatisfying to say the least. I wanted more of a punch than a tap, and the ending left me feeling like I’d wasted a ton of time. I will say that the conversations around intersectionality applied to professional settings, educational institutions and interpersonal relationships were necessary and I’m so glad this book exists for that reason. Feminine blackness is often depicted as loud, angry and unyielding. However, this story added real life dimension most stories fail to capture when including office politics in racial dialogues. In that aspect, I thought the author did a wonderful job. There were parts I enjoyed but so much that left me scratching my head. I feel pretty confident in giving the book 3 stars, but I definitely feel that it’s a story worth checking out if you’re interested in learning about micro aggressions and the code switching for black Americans in professional settings.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Zakiya Dalila Harris has penned an extraordinary literary psychological thriller for her debut. Nella and Hazel meet when they work in side-by-side cubicles- in book publishing! They are Black women working in the predominantly white publishing industry, and this is a tense story that continues to build from the very start. There’s satire, genre-bending, and so much to think about here, and I don’t want to give anything away. The twists are unexpected, and I was along for the ride and completely Zakiya Dalila Harris has penned an extraordinary literary psychological thriller for her debut. Nella and Hazel meet when they work in side-by-side cubicles- in book publishing! They are Black women working in the predominantly white publishing industry, and this is a tense story that continues to build from the very start. There’s satire, genre-bending, and so much to think about here, and I don’t want to give anything away. The twists are unexpected, and I was along for the ride and completely invested. This book at its heart is focused on the experience of Black women in the workplace by exploring racism, stereotyping, microaggressions, and discrimination. I can’t help but be excited about what literary work this talented and refreshing author will bring us next! I received a gifted copy from the publisher. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  16. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Reid

    Nella, tired of being the only Black employee at her job, is thrilled when Hazel joins the company. With the beginnings of a friendship taking root, Nella soon finds herself left behind after a series of events boost Hazel to “Office Darling.” When alarming notes start appearing on Nella’s desk, her obsession to find out who is behind them will lead her to realize there’s much more than just her career at stake. A thrilling story with real teeth.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Race in the work place…. ….mirrors the realities about micro-aggression, indoctrination, discrimination, racism, white privilege, diversity, meanness, covert competitiveness: horrific unsettling aspects…. Satire-thriller-ambitious-debut-book-buzz-worthiness!!! Not without flaws - but overall the psychological suspenseful office politics -story with its whip-smart dialogue- is both hilarious and disturbing-both enjoyable and important! Zakiya Dalila Harris’s prose is indomitable - feisty- with trail Race in the work place…. ….mirrors the realities about micro-aggression, indoctrination, discrimination, racism, white privilege, diversity, meanness, covert competitiveness: horrific unsettling aspects…. Satire-thriller-ambitious-debut-book-buzz-worthiness!!! Not without flaws - but overall the psychological suspenseful office politics -story with its whip-smart dialogue- is both hilarious and disturbing-both enjoyable and important! Zakiya Dalila Harris’s prose is indomitable - feisty- with trailblazing imagination. I couldn’t agree more with this description: “The Other Black Girl” is a psychological masterpiece, where microaggressions and gaslighting turn a company’s ‘civilized’ atmosphere into a slowly unraveling horror” A couple of teaser excerpts: “After months of giving everything to this job, she still felt as though she were doomed, stuck in assistant purgatory forever…..” “She could see her future spreading out right there in front of her—blotchy and precarious and filled with ‘WHILE YOU WERE OUT’ slips—and she hated how little control she felt like she had over any of it”. “Nella felt humiliated. Her stomach took a trip to her toes as she contemplated her next move. But she didn’t have time to actually make one. Suddenly, Hazel was right up in her face, jabbing a finger nail into her clavicle. The strong, overpowering smell of her cocoa butter hair grease burned Nella’s nostrils. I know it was a pretty big gamble on my part, because you could have opened your mouth and blabbed about it to Shani. But we handled it”. “And before you even ‘think’ about telling anyone, Hazel snarled, her smooth, buttery-nougat voice shape-shifting into something completely unrecognizable, nobody would believe you. Everyone would think you’re insane”. Congrats to Zakiya Dalila Harris… Phenomenal debut!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kai

    When she said The Devil wears Prada meets Get Out? The author wasn't messing around. The suspense definitely got to me. I did that thing where you skip ahead and read a future chapter because you cannot stand not knowing any longer. You cannot watch a character you love run headfirst into something that you know is going to end up badly for them. It was a horrible experience and by that I mean the author did an excellent job. I was hooked from the start. It was an intense book. It was a thrilling When she said The Devil wears Prada meets Get Out? The author wasn't messing around. The suspense definitely got to me. I did that thing where you skip ahead and read a future chapter because you cannot stand not knowing any longer. You cannot watch a character you love run headfirst into something that you know is going to end up badly for them. It was a horrible experience and by that I mean the author did an excellent job. I was hooked from the start. It was an intense book. It was a thrilling book. It was a very entertaining book, and at the same time it managed to open up a discussion about racism in the work place, and especially in publishing. I think this book hit me hard because I could exactly see all of this play out in my head, because I've worked in a publishing house before, because we all know these kinds of people and relationships. The characters are interesting and well-written, and the story and concept are very intriguing. I wasn't bored for a second, mostly I was scared, and on top of that I could feel rage boiling my insides because how dare these characters do...that. I'm going to talk about the ending for a bit, and it will include spoilers although I'll try not to give away any major plot points or twists. When I finished the book, I was somewhat disappointed that it ended the way it did. I felt very hopeless, but then I realised that in a world where people are constantly discriminated against and marginalised by a more privileged group, there's simply no hope left once your own people turn on you. So I can't be mad at the author's decision to end the book the way she did. I still didn't feel satisfied though, and I think it was because some things were brushed over and not resolved properly. There's a big build-up, and the it sizzles out. I needed more backstory, more confrontation, more information. I have a few unanswered questions and I feel they needed addressing because the plot suffers without it. Overall though, I had a fantastic reading experience and I highly recommend it. It's tense and thrilling, it's shocking and maddening, and I also really love the cover design. I so hope we get to see an adaption of this on the big screen. Find more of my books on Instagram

  19. 5 out of 5

    Juanita, a bookish vegan

    This book may have been written by a Black woman but it was not written for Black women. You either get this statement or you don’t. I was really looking forward to the release date for this book. The cover is beautiful and the synopsis is intriguing. I had heard comparisons to Get Out which I took with a grain of salt because I personally feel that Get Out is one of the most original and socially relevant movie of the 21st century. While plodding through this book I found it ironic that the sto This book may have been written by a Black woman but it was not written for Black women. You either get this statement or you don’t. I was really looking forward to the release date for this book. The cover is beautiful and the synopsis is intriguing. I had heard comparisons to Get Out which I took with a grain of salt because I personally feel that Get Out is one of the most original and socially relevant movie of the 21st century. While plodding through this book I found it ironic that the story centered around the main character Nella who worked for a publishing company and wanted to be an Editor because I all could think while reading this book was it really needed a strong Editor to tighten up this story because the it was an excruciating slow read. This was a book that I could easily put down and not pick for a day or two. The only reason I burned through the last 100 plus pages was I just wanted it over with. It took over 300 pages before the story finally started to move but it was too little too late. The last 40 or so pages were rushed and over all the story was incomplete and the ending very unsatisfactory. Also other than Nella’s best friend Malaika I didn’t like any of the characters and really didn’t like Nella. She was a weak character who just drifted passively through life, had zero personality and was very uncertain about being a Black woman in America. However I will give the author credit with description of Nella’s stress from being the onnly Black women in an office full of White people and how the daily indignities of micro aggressions affects the minds and bodies of Black people. ***possible spoiler*** The plot itself was very troubling. I understand that this is work of fiction but as a Black woman I found the story distasteful. It perpetuates the belief that women can not get along in general and Black women in particular. Finally the Get Out “twist” was absurd. The idea that Black women are willing to side with white America to get ahead at the expense of other Black women aka the hated house slave vs the field slave scenario just doesn’t work for me. Or the idea that Black women are doing horrible things to other Black women for their own good. It was a very distasteful plot device. Overall very overrated and not worth my time or hard earned money.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    I was intrigued by the premise of The Other Black Girl, a story about Nella, an editorial assistant at publishing house, Wagner Books. Nella is the only Black employee until Hazel is hired. At first, Nella is thrilled to have Hazel there, the possibility of a genuine work friendship on her mind. They get along but Hazel quickly rises to be well-liked by many employees at Wagner, including Nella’s boss, who asks her to begin reviewing manuscripts. One day, Nella receives an anonymous note at work I was intrigued by the premise of The Other Black Girl, a story about Nella, an editorial assistant at publishing house, Wagner Books. Nella is the only Black employee until Hazel is hired. At first, Nella is thrilled to have Hazel there, the possibility of a genuine work friendship on her mind. They get along but Hazel quickly rises to be well-liked by many employees at Wagner, including Nella’s boss, who asks her to begin reviewing manuscripts. One day, Nella receives an anonymous note at work “Leave Wagner Now” — There is no trace of who it came from. Surely it can’t be Hazel, right? If not her, who, and why now? Nella continues to receive notes, racking her brain for their sender and the meaning. This story is definitely a slow build — I stayed interested in seeing how things turned out, and though I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting from the conclusion, it felt like a letdown after a fairly lengthy build up throughout the story. The book’s description “...will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist” did not hold true for me. I was also much less interested in the POVs of other characters in the story, understanding they were included to show the big picture, beyond Nella, but I felt less invested in those parts. The Other Black Girl is a good debut centered on workplace drama, with lots to think about, however I’d caution readers seeking a traditional thriller from this story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Published this week - grab it and then discuss with all your friends! Well, that wasn't at all what I expected from the blurb, but the difference is good. Turns out this is one of the most original storylines of recent years that is both timely and absolutely of the moment as Harris tackles the question of race in the overwhelmingly white world of Manhattan book publishing. There's an authenticity to the work scenes and the kind of detail that proves Harris knows what she's talking about - but th Published this week - grab it and then discuss with all your friends! Well, that wasn't at all what I expected from the blurb, but the difference is good. Turns out this is one of the most original storylines of recent years that is both timely and absolutely of the moment as Harris tackles the question of race in the overwhelmingly white world of Manhattan book publishing. There's an authenticity to the work scenes and the kind of detail that proves Harris knows what she's talking about - but there's also a bold and somewhat bonkers surreal turn to the plot that is both weird and yet tackles issues of compromise and selling out in a figurative or symbolic way. I can see why there are comparisons made with The Devil Wears Prada but I was also thinking of The Stepford Wives... There are a few places where the writing gets florid, and the surreal strand is a little too enigmatic and opaque for too long - these are probably rookie mistakes but my, this is bold, sharp and unashamedly in your face. Definitely a book you'll want to talk about with all your friends and one to watch for summer 2021. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC via NetGalley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Blaine

    Or if it was a push she'd always had within, from the day she’d first learned that it would not be enough for her to simply go to college, get good grades, and get the interview. That it wouldn’t be enough to simply show up to work; to simply wear the right clothes. You had to wear the right mentality. You had to live the mentality. Be everyone’s best friend. Be sassy. Be confident, but also be deferential. Be spiritual, but also be down-to-earth. Be woke, but still keep some of that sleep in yo Or if it was a push she'd always had within, from the day she’d first learned that it would not be enough for her to simply go to college, get good grades, and get the interview. That it wouldn’t be enough to simply show up to work; to simply wear the right clothes. You had to wear the right mentality. You had to live the mentality. Be everyone’s best friend. Be sassy. Be confident, but also be deferential. Be spiritual, but also be down-to-earth. Be woke, but still keep some of that sleep in your eyes, too.I almost held off reading The Other Black Girl now out of fear that it would be too similar to Black Buck, a book I just read a couple of months ago. I’m glad I didn’t let that nervousness stop me, because while both books begin with a young black person entering an all-white workplace, the similarities pretty much stop there. Nella has worked for two years as an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, suffering through the daily grind in the hopes of getting a promotion to an editor position (“She loved sliding words and paragraphs around in a game of literary Tetris”). And she’s initially excited when Wagner hires Hazel, a second black editorial assistant who will understand what she’s been experiencing, and with whom she can share her frustrations. But when Nella starts receiving threatening notes telling her to leave Wagner, she’s not certain what’s happening, or why, or who she can trust. The comparison to the movie Get Out is spot on. The Other Black Girl is a slow burn. Something is plainly off at Wagner Books, but it’s not clear what it is. There are occasional chapters from the perspective of other characters, some in the present and others in the past, that add to the uncertainty about what is happening. But the pieces do eventually start to fall into place, and when they do, they probably won’t be what you were expecting. As with Get Out, The Other Black Girl is filled with smart social commentary. Much of that commentary is about race and racism, and black representation in the media. There’s a fair amount that is specific to the publishing industry—from sensitivity reads to the inherent risk of white authors attempting (and often failing) to write authentic black characters—but there’s a lot that applies generally to any workplace, from micro aggressions and poorly designed workplace diversity initiatives to the exhaustion and loneliness caused by code switching and trying to navigate largely white spaces while black. And there are the non-race themes as well, including fears about selling out, a heavy dose of millennial guilt and self-blame, and a very effective depiction of the paranoia of being in the middle of workplace drama. I wish The Other Black Girl started a bit more quickly, and I think it could have been at least fifty pages shorter without losing anything. Still, it’s a very good book, especially for a debut novel. The writing is strong, and it’s got a lot to say about the intersection between race and the workplace, and the thriller/horror style makes the story more compelling and memorable. Recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    I’m probably going to be echoing a lot of other reviews here when I say I was noooooot expecting the direction this went in at all. I don’t really see how I can even broach on the themes of The Other Black Girl without giving something away. I guess the best I can say is that this is a novel that doesn’t cleanly fall into a genre, and you’re never quite sure what a character’s true motivations are. Nella is an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, an almost entirely white publishing house in New I’m probably going to be echoing a lot of other reviews here when I say I was noooooot expecting the direction this went in at all. I don’t really see how I can even broach on the themes of The Other Black Girl without giving something away. I guess the best I can say is that this is a novel that doesn’t cleanly fall into a genre, and you’re never quite sure what a character’s true motivations are. Nella is an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, an almost entirely white publishing house in New York City. After toiling away at her job for over a year, Nella is beyond excited when Wagner finally hires another Black woman, Hazel-May McCall. What begins with near immediate moments of bonding through commiseration eventually cools into an almost adversarial relationship, and Nella has a hard time pinpointing exactly why. Is Hazel just another ambitious coworker, or is there something else more sinister at play here? The biggest drawback with this book for me wasn’t really any of the content but the pacing. There was about 200 pages of preamble before I understood any of what was going on. Most of the office exchanges between Nella, Hazel and their coworkers were pretty straight-forward. It’s an work culture that’s full of underpaid assistants and a lot of inflated egos at the higher levels. And on top of that Nella experiences a range of racist micro-aggressions up through straight out aggression-aggressions while trying to fulfill the duties of her job. These scenes were probably the most effective by Zakiya Dalila Harris in the book, and I think a lot of that has to do with her own experiences in publishing as a Black woman. (Notably NOT at the place she eventually published this book lol) But while reading I was the most aimless during the series of flashbacks and alternating viewpoints peppered in between some of Nella’s chapters. Obviously it all comes together by the end, but it was a lot of waiting for everything to click into place up until that point. I thought there was a decent amount of tension and unsettling feelings throughout the first two-thirds or so that kept my attention, but I don’t think there was much of a reason to keep the audience in the dark for so long. The ending felt like it flew by in comparison, and I wish we got to sit with it a little longer instead. And listen, I know a lot of people will not like this ending, but I genuinely love and appreciate unsatisfying endings. They just feel more real to me, and not every story has to end on an uplifting note. When it comes to The Other Black Girl, I will say that this sort of twisting-of-the-knife feels a little forced, but I understand the symbolism Harris was playing with here. I definitely didn’t mind it, but I also may just not be directly impacted by the implications of a story wrapping up in this way. Would looooove to say more, but like I said earlier there’s just no way to talk more in-depth without major spoilers. For all the mixed reviews, I do appreciate authors that take big risks, especially in a debut. And a bit of a sidebar but still related—I think some of the Jordan Peele comparisons are not helpful to every Black author experimenting with fear & racism in their books. Yes every book needs comp titles, but there are other works to compare new fiction to that won’t put so much pressure on books that are notable in their own right. I just don’t see how marketing teams or readers immediately making that link does anyone any favors. I’d love to see more of Zakiya Dalila Harris‘s writing, without the shadow of Get Out looming over it. *Thanks to Jordan, Carrie, Nicole & Atria Books for my review copy! **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sayo

    Extremely amateurish and disappointing. So many things about this book—the stilted writing, the barely-there plot, the underwhelming execution of social commentary—are amateurish and disappointing. The idea behind this could have worked. But its execution here is UNFORGIVABLE. I literally want to cry. That's how awful this was. If you want a smart, funny, suspenseful story about a young Black woman working in publishing (all of the things The Other Black Girl is supposed to be but is not), please, Extremely amateurish and disappointing. So many things about this book—the stilted writing, the barely-there plot, the underwhelming execution of social commentary—are amateurish and disappointing. The idea behind this could have worked. But its execution here is UNFORGIVABLE. I literally want to cry. That's how awful this was. If you want a smart, funny, suspenseful story about a young Black woman working in publishing (all of the things The Other Black Girl is supposed to be but is not), please, do yourself a favor and read Luster by Raven Leilani instead.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    The Other Black Girl is a story set in a publishing office environment following Nella Rodgers who is a young editorial assistant at a major publisher with big dreams to becoming an editor. She's determined to be the next big Black editor following in the footsteps of Kendra Rae, an editor from the 80s who worked for the same company. While she's hopefully waiting for that promotion her work environment has also been getting to her. Her coworkers have been dismissive of the diversity town halls The Other Black Girl is a story set in a publishing office environment following Nella Rodgers who is a young editorial assistant at a major publisher with big dreams to becoming an editor. She's determined to be the next big Black editor following in the footsteps of Kendra Rae, an editor from the 80s who worked for the same company. While she's hopefully waiting for that promotion her work environment has also been getting to her. Her coworkers have been dismissive of the diversity town halls and her efforts to promote a more diverse work environment. Then one day she smells the strong scent of cocoa butter in the air and realizes there's another Black woman on the floor who isn't a visiting author. But is the new girl Hazel all she appears to be? And why is Nella's work life collapsing? Nella is so used to being surrounded by whiteness because she grew up in a mostly white town and she was in honors classes with the white kids. But at the same time she feels like an outsider among her white peers so she doesn't really have relationships with any of them. And then due to feeling like an outsider among the Black kids because they teased her and called her an Oreo as a child. She has a lot of insecurities about her Blackness that are amplified by her very white work environment. Her favorite book of all time was written by a Black author and edited by a Black author while being published by Wagner which is her sole motivation for working there. And she's at that age where this is her first big job and she's still navigating where she wants to be in life. She thought she wanted a Black coworker but a small part of her was happy being the only Black girl in the office. Hazel brings out her insecurities because she's the "ideal" Black woman. She's from Harlem, comes from a long line of Civil Rights activists, rocks dreadlocks, has a sexy non white boyfriend, mentors younger women, and has the white people at work eating out of her palm. Once she starts receiving hateful notes telling her to leave she immediately blames Hazel even before she gets thrown under the bus in an author incident. There are other POVs that are scattered throughout the novel but sometimes they distracted from the plot more than they added. I could see how she was trying to add to the foundation of the big twist but there was one I felt added nothing beyond their initial appearance. So I felt that part could've been either cut or expanded upon more. Do I think this book is going to shake publishing up? Not really. Nothing in here was anything new from what people have been saying about the lack of diversity in publishing for years. The white powers that be are well aware of the power they hold against us. They have no qualms over pitting marginalized people against each other. I think people in publishing will enjoy this because they can identify with the environment it's set in. I see this story as a precautionary tale about how Black woman have to change themselves and go against their own to become leaders in a very white workplace and an examination of damaging it can be as a Black person constantly being in white environments. As the late great Toni Morrison said, “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being." Instead of working together to make a difference in their workplace Hazel and Nella end up fighting to be the last one standing. I received an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review. Full review at https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    Published today 3/6/21 - this is certainly going to be one of the most discussed literary novels of 2021 – at least in the United States. I think it’s a book best read largely cold – so I don’t think it makes sense to say to really add anything to the blurb in terms of plot/characters etc and I will try instead to focus on overall approach and themes. And it is very difficult to categorise: As a book that blends part literary fiction, part Book Club discussion book; part modern social comedy of m Published today 3/6/21 - this is certainly going to be one of the most discussed literary novels of 2021 – at least in the United States. I think it’s a book best read largely cold – so I don’t think it makes sense to say to really add anything to the blurb in terms of plot/characters etc and I will try instead to focus on overall approach and themes. And it is very difficult to categorise: As a book that blends part literary fiction, part Book Club discussion book; part modern social comedy of manners; part girlfriend-bonding book; part story of everyday office life – all refracted through a lens of black experience in a white dominated world: there were elements that reminded me of the 2020 Booker longlisted “Such a Fun Age” and others that reminded me of the 2020 Women’s Prize longlisted “Queenie”. But this also contains further elements. The first is a biting satire on the lack of diversity the publishing industry – an element briefly explored in the 2021 Women’s Prize longlisted “Luster” but which here is front and center of the book. Now I know, I know ......…. there are too many books written about writing, authors, books etc and it always seems to imply a lack of imagination…. but this one I think works well. There is a lot to be said for the publishing industry examining the inclusion plank in its own eye before turning its literary fire on wider society (here my scriptural analogy fails as wider society has less of a mote and more of a forest in its eye). Even an area of particularly interest to me (literary prizes) has its own issues (I am looking at you Goldsmith Prize). The second - and the book's absolute core - is a really hard hitting examination of the issue on how to succeed in a world which is systematically stacked and institutionally biased against you. Do you adapt and fit in even if it means compromising your beliefs and values; Do you fight back hard – yes risking your own success and possibly creating a counterproductive backlash but at least knowing you have spoken out and retained your full integrity; Or do you try a difficult middle line, keeping your hard down with the aim that once you rise to the top you can then effect lasting change from there – and if you take that route what does it actually mean and when do you make the decision to come from undercover? (All of this is examined for black people working in a white-dominated world – and I am not qualified to express an opinion there: although I think people may well relate to it on a political, ethical or religious front also). And this is a book which – I suspect uncomfortably for many readers – does not give answers – in many ways simply pointing out the issues with each of the different approaches. I think some readers may also be uncomfortable with the way that the nature of the book’s examination means that the different approaches (and those following them) are effectively set up in opposition to each other more so than against their common oppressors (although I think that can be gathered from the book’s title). And the third is a part thriller, part dystopian, part surreal element which I think really distinguishes the book. Overall I think this will probably be the most original book I read this year. My thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC via NetGalley

  27. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    Blew through this in a little more than 2 days. Hated any time I had to stop reading. But be forewarned, this is far more speculative fiction than your average thriller. Some fantastical elements, but that's why it was so good. Blew through this in a little more than 2 days. Hated any time I had to stop reading. But be forewarned, this is far more speculative fiction than your average thriller. Some fantastical elements, but that's why it was so good.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Reads Ravenously

    3 stars Get Out + Stepford Wives in the publishing industry? Believe me when I tell you that’s all it took to sell me on this book. Barnes and Noble even had a special sale where for two days the hardcover edition was 50% off and I RAN to them to purchase this book. I also want to note, photos of this cover does not do it justice. In real life the book cover is STUNNING. Blue sparkles and soft cover that I could stare at for long periods of time (I’m weird, I know). This book is about Nella Roge 3 stars Get Out + Stepford Wives in the publishing industry? Believe me when I tell you that’s all it took to sell me on this book. Barnes and Noble even had a special sale where for two days the hardcover edition was 50% off and I RAN to them to purchase this book. I also want to note, photos of this cover does not do it justice. In real life the book cover is STUNNING. Blue sparkles and soft cover that I could stare at for long periods of time (I’m weird, I know). This book is about Nella Rogers, a young black woman who has worked at Wagner publishing house for two years. She is the only black woman in her department, until a new hire Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. But soon after Hazel begins working there, Nella begins to receive notes tell her to leave Wagner. Not sure what to do, Nella begins to investigate the new hire and things begin to get a little bit weird. I have to say, I really love the premise of this book. It’s fresh, original, and there really isn’t anything like it out in book world right now (that I know of). It’s disturbing and creepy, and makes you rethink everything about what you think you know. Where the book started to fall short for me was the pacing. This book was slow, and I mean SLOW. By the time the plot gained momentum it was almost too late? Like I would have loved this book so much more if it was riveting, but at times it felt a little bit like a chore to read. Overall I think this is an outstanding debut novel and I am looking forward to watching the expected Hulu series when it comes out. I would definitely read another book by this author despite not loving this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4+] I inhaled this novel - and was too hooked to resist when it veered off the tracks. The Other Black Girl is not the straightforward novel about a young black woman confronting racism in the publishing world that I expected. But as the Rolling Stones say - "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need." So yes, I was thrown off balance by this sharp, silly, sinister novel. And I'm glad. Thank you to Atria Books for sending me an ARC. [4+] I inhaled this novel - and was too hooked to resist when it veered off the tracks. The Other Black Girl is not the straightforward novel about a young black woman confronting racism in the publishing world that I expected. But as the Rolling Stones say - "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need." So yes, I was thrown off balance by this sharp, silly, sinister novel. And I'm glad. Thank you to Atria Books for sending me an ARC.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Read In Colour

    If you've worked in corporate America as a Black woman, at one point in time you've likely been the "only." Heck, you may still be the only. Regardless, there has been or will come a time when you see another Black woman being introduced around the office. Are you excited to see her or do you need to suss out the situation first? Does she get to hear your outside voice or are you keeping it corporate for her? Zakiya Dalila Harris covers these thoughts and feelings and more in The Other Black Gir If you've worked in corporate America as a Black woman, at one point in time you've likely been the "only." Heck, you may still be the only. Regardless, there has been or will come a time when you see another Black woman being introduced around the office. Are you excited to see her or do you need to suss out the situation first? Does she get to hear your outside voice or are you keeping it corporate for her? Zakiya Dalila Harris covers these thoughts and feelings and more in The Other Black Girl, a book I like to think of as a mashup between Lauren Wilkinson's American Spy, The Matrix and The Devil Wears Prada. Publishing is a competitive field and Nella has worked hard to prove herself in hopes of a promotion, but she knows she doesn't come from the right background. She doesn't summer in the right places and doesn't always get the cultural references that come from watching shows like Friends or Seinfeld. And then Hazel shows up in her office one day and she's everything Nella isn't. She's able to hold conversations with coworkers about what makes Boston a great town. She jumps right into team meetings and others hang on her every word. Nella thinks she's found a friend in Hazel, but maybe not so much. Nella's attempts to find out just who Hazel really is takes readers deep into a world that will ultimately leave them asking how do I define blackness, who am I to define blackness and, if given the choice to stir things up or assimilate, would I or wouldn't I? The Other Black Girl has so many twists and turns. When I say it's a mashup of other books and movies, it really is. I wouldn't even begin to know how to classify it. But I will say it's an absolute page turner that will leave you thinking long after you've put it down. A film version has been optioned for Hulu. Disclaimer: A copy of the book was received from the publisher in an exchange for an honest review.

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