Passing

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - Fiction - 304 pages
16 Reviews
First published to critical acclaim in 1929, Passing firmly established Nella Larsen's prominence among women writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The Modern Library is proud to present Passing—an electrifying story of two women who cross the color line in 1920s New York—together with a new Introduction by the Obie Award- winning playwright and novelist Ntozake Shange.

Irene Redfield, the novel's protagonist, is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem's elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch. Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming—tells Irene how, after her father's death, she left behind the black neighborhood of her adolescence and began passing for white, hiding her true identity from everyone, including her racist husband. As Clare begins inserting herself into Irene's life, Irene is thrown into a panic, terrified of the consequences of Clare's dangerous behavior. And when Clare witnesses the vibrancy and energy of the community she left behind, her burning desire to come back threatens to shatter her careful deception.

Brilliantly plotted and elegantly written, Passing offers a gripping psychological portrait of emotional extremity. The New York Times Book Review called Larsen "adroit at tracing the involved processes of a mind divided against itself, that fights between the dictates of reason and desire." The Saturday Review of Literature said, "[Larsen] has produced a work so fine, sensitive, and distinguished that it rises above race categories and becomes that rare object, a good novel."
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - eadieburke - LibraryThing

This was a very interesting, enjoyable read. Even though it was written in 1929, the book is very relevant to present day also. The characters are well developed and the author's writing is such that ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gbill - LibraryThing

‘Passing’ is a novella on race relations, written and set during the period of the ‘Harlem Renaissance’ of the 1920’s, with some historical significance. 60 years after emancipation, 40 years before ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Ntozake Shange is a renowned playwright, poet, and novelist. Her works include the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Liliane, Betsey Brown, and Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo. Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader s Digest Fund and a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of Barnard and recipient of a Masters in American Studies from University of Southern California, she lives in Brooklyn.

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