Zakiya Dalila Harris has made a splash with her debut novel, “The Other Black Girl.” Set in New York’s publishing world, the thriller incorporates social commentary about diversity in the workplace and the challenges Black women often have to navigate. Washington Post senior critic-at-large Robin Givhan speaks with Harris about the book that has topped many of this summer’s reading lists.


Zakiya Dalila Harris said she didn’t initially plan to focus on the publishing industry in her debut novel, “The Other Black Girl.” “I wasn’t trying to… when I started writing, talk about publishing... I was really more so interested in Black women and working in corporate America as the only ones. But then… I was like, ‘Oh, there are all these things I’ve felt about this industry.’ And I feel like other people in other industries have also felt.” (Washington Post Live)
Zakiya Dalila Harris says she wanted her book’s characters to illustrate both what has and hasn’t changed over the last 30 years for Black Americans. “Clearly a lot has changed in the last 30 years, but also a lot hasn’t changed. Just as 30 years before that, and so on and so on.” (Washington Post Live)
The author said she thinks the growing cultural embrace of Black artists helped her sell “The Other Black Girl.” “There’s always been an audience for these kinds of works, of course, we’ve been out there. But I think now that a lot of these things have made mainstream, I do think that had a lot to do with this book finding a home.” (Washington Post Live)

Zakiya Dalila Harris

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Zakiya Dalila Harris spent nearly three years in editorial at Knopf/Doubleday before leaving to write her debut novel The Other Black Girl. Prior to working in publishing, Zakiya received her MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Guernica, and The Rumpus. She lives in Brooklyn.