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.”
Charles McGrath at The New York Times reviews Per Petterson’s new novel I Curse the River of Time: “…at moments when a lot of American prose seems fizzy and over-rich, the sentences in I Curse the River of Time go down like an eye-watering shot of aquavit.”
In the latest edition of By the Book, Neil Patrick Harris explains his love of Gone Girl, Steve Martin, and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’ve written about the series in the past — you might want to look back on the entries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Colson Whitehead.