Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good Reads

so i've been reading this book Passing by Nella Larsen for my african american art history class [blah] and its not a bad story. iWld suggest this a must read :-)
book review by Amazon:
"The heroine of Passing takes an elevator from the infernal August Chicago streets to the breezy rooftop of the heavenly Drayton Hotel, "wafted upward on a magic carpet to another world, pleasant, quiet, and strangely remote from the sizzling one that she had left below." Irene is black, but like her author, the Danish-African American Nella Larsen (a star of the 1920s to mid-1930s Harlem Renaissance and the first black woman to win a Guggenheim creative-writing award), she can "pass" in white society. Yet one woman in the tea room, "fair and golden, like a sunlit day," keeps staring at her, and eventually introduces herself as Irene's childhood friend Clare, who left their hometown 12 years before when her father died. Clare's father had been born "on the left hand"--he was the product of a legal marriage between a white man and a black woman and therefore cut off from his inheritance. So she was raised penniless by white racist relatives, and now she passes as white. Even Clare's violent white husband is in the dark about her past, though he teases her about her tan and affectionately calls her "Nig." He laughingly explains: "When we were first married, she was white as--as--well as white as a lily. But I declare she's getting darker and darker." As Larsen makes clear, Passing can also mean dying, and Clare is in peril of losing her identity and her life.
The tale is simple on the surface--a few adventures in Chicago and New York's high life, with lots of real people and race-mixing events described (explicated by Thadious M. Davis's helpful introduction and footnotes). But underneath, it seethes with rage, guilt, sex, and complex deceptions. Irene fears losing her black husband to Clare, who seems increasingly predatory. Or is this all in Irene's mind? And is everyone wearing a mask? Larsen's book is a scary hall of mirrors, a murder mystery that can't resolve itself. It sticks with you."

and also Passin' by Karen E. Quinones Miller, which is a modern story of passing, that i've also read and enjoyed. this is the review by Publishers Weekly:
"In her fifth novel, Quinones Miller (Satin Doll) attempts to make a commentary on race but instead delivers a stew of clich├ęs, two-dimensional characters and tired stereotypes. African-American Shanika Jenkins, who has skin as white as Meryl Streep's, blond hair and blue eyes, comes from a long line of Jenkinses who pride themselves on being so light-skinned that some people could mistake them for white. After graduating from college, Shanika gets an interview at a New York PR firm and starts dreaming big. But after the interview, Shanika is told she was turned down for the position because the interviewer thought she was white, and therefore wouldn't help meet the company's affirmative action quota. She interviews for another position that isn't subject to the AA rules as a white woman and, predictably, lands the job and her career takes off. The lies snowball and she hurts plenty of people, including the man of her dreams: the handsome African-American businessman Tyrone Bennett. The ending may surprise, but there are few reasons to get that far."

Go to your nearest library and check out these two good reads!