Before working in publishing, Zakiya Dalila Harris studied creative nonfiction at the New School. Her debut novel, The Other Black Girl, is a Good Morning America Book Club pick, and we may be lucky enough to see protagonists Nella and Hazel onscreen soon, as a TV adaptation is in the works for Hulu. Harris’s writing mines workplace hierarchies, friendships, and competition, and illuminates one woman’s mission to challenge enduring power structures.
In this interview, Harris discusses the genesis of her two protagonists, Nella and Hazel, and the psychological importance of their changing relationship as the novel progresses. She explains how she first knew she wanted to write a thriller, and how she imagined the book’s ending—one that doesn’t let anyone off the hook and shows just how intractable cycles of oppression and manipulation can be, both within and outside the workplace. A longtime viewer of Good Morning America, Harris also touches on the thrill of hearing the GMA Book Club announcement.
From the starred Kirkus review: “In Harris’ slyly brilliant debut, a young editorial assistant is thrilled when her glaringly White employer hires another Black woman—but it soon becomes clear there’s something sinister about [Hazel]…shortly after Hazel’s arrival, the first anonymous note arrives on Nella’s desk: “Leave Wagner Now.”…A biting social satire–cum-thriller; dark, playful, and brimming with life.”