A Forgotten Classic of the Harlem Renaissance

February 12, 2020 | 2 books mentioned

Almost 90 years after it was written, Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay is getting a chance to reach wider audiences thanks to Penguin Classics. The book’s plot seems contemporary by today’s standards, as it delves into issues of queerness and cultural displacement. For The New York Times, Talya Zax explore’s McKay’s place in the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the book’s long path to publication. “McKay belonged both to that subculture and to the movement’s mainstream. His 1928 novel Home to Harlem was the first American best seller by a black writer. But despite being seen as one of the Renaissance’s guiding lights, McKay — Jamaican, bisexual, a Marxist who grew disenchanted with communism before the rest of his cohort — also brought an outsider’s critical gaze to the movement.”

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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