55 pages 1 hour read

Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Character Analysis

Nella Rogers

Two years after being hired as an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, protagonist Nella is on her way to becoming an editor, like her personal hero, Kendra Rae Phillips. Once she attains a position of relative power within Wagner, Nella dreams of contracting more diverse authors and voices, not for the optics but for the potential change they might bring. These dreams shatter, however, when “the other Black girl” in the office, Hazel-May McCall, begins to outshine Nella after working at Wagner for only a few months. Hazel’s performance and popularity cause Nella to grow resentful and paranoid, and she starts to wonder whether Hazel is angling for her job. Additionally, Nella starts to receive mysterious notes from the Resistance telling her to leave the company, further fueling her paranoia. Nella doesn’t learn the truth about Hazel—that she is an OBG—until it’s too late. Nella succumbs and by the Epilogue is on a mission to silence the Resistance and convert other Black women.

At the beginning of the novel, Nella seems to have much in common with Kendra Rae: Both are Black women in publishing whose careers hinge on precarity. As the novel progresses, however, similarities emerge between Nella and Hazel.

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